The Boston Phoenix, April 20, 1990
"Earth Angels: Three Members of the New Breed of Landscape Artist"
by REBECCA NEMSER
One of the great images of this century is the first picture of the earth that NASA weather satellite TIROS (Television Infrared Observation Satellite) brought back in 1960. That picture changed public perception of the earth. The home planet no longer seemed vast and endless - it looked fragile and finite, a beautiful little emerald ball swimming alone in the dark and empty night.
In the last few years, a new romantic vision of landscape has emerged, tinged with a melancholy sense that nature is disappearing.
I talked to three Boston artists who live in the city but dream of forests and underground waterways. Their work looks very different, but each expresses a sense of connection to the earth and a concern for its survival. And that's what Earth Day is all about...
Prilla Smith Brackett visited the Amazon jungle on a family trip to Columbia to see the family of an exchange student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin. "My initial reaction that it was too green," she says. But she spent most of her year as a Bunting Fellow in the studio, working from photographs to re-create the jungle in black ink and gray pastels, white paint and charcoal. Her drawings trace the play of light falling through the lavish vegetation of the rain forest.
"These are romantic landscapes. It's not my daily visual vocabulary. I give myself to this jungle to work with, and live with, and be alone with, while living a fragmented kind of life in an urban environment, juggling lots of different things. It's a way for me to be centered. There's a stillness here, even though there's a lot of visual confusion. There's a meditative quality. And those big trees with those big sensuous twisty roots — there's an erotic quality to them. I don't know if you see it." I do.
Brackett's drawings show a moment of stillness in the dance of the world that is constantly growing. The smooth white vines twist and curl around the trees like lovers embracing. The thin trunks reach up to the light; their enormous roots hug the ground. Sunlight filters down through the big leaves like light shining through the windows of a Gothic cathedral. "I'm not a spiritual person — but I think I am becoming one. And this isn't political art — but I hope they will remind people that we have to nurture and cherish places like the jungles for the survival of our planet...."
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