Artist Interviews News

Synergy: Below the Surface II
Award Winner Interviews

Over the Summer, Art League RI hosted an exhibition focused on art and ocean science, titled Below the Surface II. The mission of the exhibition was to demonstrate what we know about the ocean and how we are still making discoveries in its vast landscape. Three awards were presented to Chris Maynard, Dorothy Raymond, and Alexander Morris at the opening reception. Art League RI is thrilled to have had the chance to speak with the awardees about their art.

Meet Chris Maynard!

Chris Maynard won first place in the exhibition! He dedicates his time to carving feathers into intricate artwork, which is how we are introduced to his piece, Piercing the Veil. The piece is made by naturally shed macaw parrot feathers, cotton, paper, and pins. His art is heavily influenced by paleolithic art. Chris shared:

“Paleolithic art, the art that humans have created when we were mostly hunters and gatherers and lived in tribes, that is to say, 95% of the time that humans have existed. It is when we were more aware of our influence on the environment and the environment’s influence on us… we didn’t consider ourselves so separate.”

Similarly, the ocean holds a powerful and vital part in our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not. Maynard, however, does acknowledge that.

Piercing the Veil by Chris Maynard
Piercing the Veil — Chris Maynard

His artwork, Piercing the Veil honors the role our environment has in our lives. Additionally, it represents where Maynard has his roots, which are near the Pacific Ocean. Maynard reflected on his work and shared:

“Indigenous people who lived next to the salt waters of the far northwest USA and through British Columbia and Alaska boated on the surface of the waters to get from here to there and received their sustenance from the waters below. I read an old anthropology article. This world above the waters was described as something of an illusion, the surface was considered a veil covering a more real-world below.”

Below the Surface II is the continuation of an original concept started in the Synergy Project, where the discoveries and results from ocean science research are communicated through art and artistic expression. Chris Maynard created his piece right before the call for art was announced, and this artwork thoroughly showcased the mission of Below the Surface II.

Meet Dorothy Raymond!

Dorothy Raymond, of Loveland, Colorado, is our second-place winner for Below the Surface II with her fiber piece Origins III. Earlier in her life, Dorothy was an attorney. However, she worked with fiber her whole life:

“I have always sewn most of my own clothes. I discovered textile collage about the time I decided to ease out of my career. Making textile collages from different textures and colors of fabric was the creative outlet I needed.”

Dorothy wishes to promote textile art, and more specifically quilt art, as fine art, which is why she entered Below the Surface II! As Dorothy says: “Textiles are something that everyone is familiar with—we all wear clothes. I believe that the comfort that contact with textiles gives us makes textile collage more accessible than art from paint or ceramics.”

Origins III by Dorothy Raymond
Origins III — Dorothy Raymond

Dorothy’s inspiration comes from light: “I love the play of light and shadow and how that can be depicted with colors and textures of textiles.” Her favorite artworks are typically landscapes, created by artists such as Cy Twombly, Turner, and Monet. “I realized how simple a landscape could be, yet still have emotional content,” she shares. She also shares how to make what you love. Her love for textiles creates art, and anyone looking at her artwork can determine that.

Meet Alexander Morris!

Our third-place winner for Below the Surface II was Alexander Morris for his piece Of Ocean and Sky No. 2. As you look at his work, you are pulled into the dynamic blues and down into the depths of the ocean. Alexander shared that he was working on an oceanic series when Below the Surface II was announced, making this work a natural choice to submit. His medium of choice is acrylic, which is what he used for Of Ocean and Sky No. 2. His acrylics are homebrewed using a variety of his own methods. On this method, he states, “the process is central to my non-representational bent.”

Of Ocean and Sky No. 2 by Alexander Morris
Of Ocean and Sky No. 2 — Alexander Morris

Since 2013, Alexander has been working professionally as an artist from his home studio in Rumford, RI. Within his art, he uses relationships he observes in his life to create certain textures and lines in his composition. Alexander shares more on this: “I have my own mythos and pathos, concepts and narratives that I keep mostly to myself, not wanting to rob the audience of their own experience when viewing the work.” When creating Of Ocean and Sky No. 2, he was focusing on the relationships that make up the depths of the ocean: “The ocean has a dense, interconnected web of symbiotic, parasitic and otherwise consequential relationships and I am absolutely enthralled by them and how we matter as a part of them.” The relationship Alexander captures in this painting creates a mesmerizing piece highlighting the vast landscape of the ocean.

Follow Alexander Morris on Instagram @_wolfbird and visit his website to see the complete series of Of Ocean and Sky.