Represented artist Paula Wilson exhibited at the Colby Museum’s new gallery, The Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art at the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, Downtown Waterville
Ashley Bryan / Paula Wilson: Take the World into Your Arms
On View: February 17–July 30, 2023
A highlight of the Colby Museum’s inaugural season at its new gallery in the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, this exhibition brings together two extraordinary artists, Ashley Bryan (1923–2022) and Paula Wilson (born 1975), whose passionate and open embrace of the world unites their multifaceted creative endeavors. Through their art they channel the beauty and spirituality to be found in humanity and nature, using texture, color, and light to convey magical lyricism. With knowing and critical eyes, Bryan and Wilson also examine cultural history and tropes of identity and self-representation. The exhibition introduces Wilson to Maine audiences and offers a new perspective on Bryan, an artist who made Maine his chosen home and who was beloved for his illustrated books but is insufficiently recognized for his contributions as a contemporary artist.
Bryan and Wilson are cultural guides, leading us both to a more considered and grateful encounter with the world, and to ways of living intentionally and with care. The exhibition reveals the symbiosis in their study of and response to people, nature, and still life. It includes paintings, large-scale collage, relief printing, bookmaking, video, prints, clothing, and puppets. The works affirm their makers’ shared commitment to innovation and play in response to materials.
Bryan worked mostly on an intimate scale, using woodblock printing, colored glass, ink drawing, and collage to create objects and illustrate more than fifty books of poems and stories, many of which he himself wrote. Wilson sources many of the same printmaking and collage techniques to conjure ambitious large-scale relief constructions and installation works. While Bryan used avatars and puppets to populate his books and embody the stories of his life, Wilson’s questions of cultural identity and representation have been more personal. She consistently reasserts the presence of multiracial women in art history and often makes herself a subject in her work
Ashley Bryan and Paula Wilson encourage us to look around us with greater care and listen to one another more attentively. This project will be accompanied by a range of opportunities for engagement through public and education programs for audiences of all ages.