Saturday, April 24, 2021
3:30pm to 5pm
The frozen parts of our planet are beautiful, awesome, and threatened. For the past 20 years, Lisa Goren has been creating paintings of the ice in Antarctica, Iceland, Alaska, and the High Arctic (near the North Pole). Come explore the Farthest Reaches of our planet from Cape Cod and meet the artist bringing our attention through her art to these beautiful places.
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I am a witness.
Over 20 years ago, I was able to go to Antarctica. I imagined myself as part of the “Heroic Age of Exploration,” something I’d been fascinated with ever since I was a teenager, a modern-day Shackleton! This trip was more than I could have ever imagined. The very small part that I was able to see overwhelmed me and fed the fire in me that was drawn to the Polar Regions.
I took watercolors with me, not knowing why – just knowing that I wanted to capture the ice with my brush. I painted a few pieces (never having done this before) and then put it all away when I came back to resume my “regular” life working in the music business.
Years later, I left the music business before it collapsed, had a son, and stayed home with him. To keep me sane, I took a watercolor class knowing exactly what I wanted to paint. And that’s how it began.
Since then, I have been to Alaska, Iceland, and the High Arctic (near the North Pole) – all because I can’t get these landscapes out of my head. The clarity of the air, the simplicity of the landscape (nearly all of my trips are beyond the tree line), and the blue of the ice feed my soul. I’ve been working on these paintings for 20 years. The earliest in this show, “Lion’s Paw Iceberg,” is from 2003 and the most recent, “Melting Tundra From Above” was completed in 2021.
During these 20 years, the world has turned its eyes to the same landscape. I have gone from a tourist explorer, to an active witness of the planet’s fragility. Initially, I painted to show the world how beautiful the ice was. I wanted to try and capture the majesty and astonishment I felt seeing a landscape most people would not be able to visit. Just like any other painter works to capture a flower or a marsh on the Cape, I wanted to bring this inspiring world to others.
But my mission has changed in that it is more urgent. Included in this collection, I am thrilled to be able to show all of my large-scale watercolors for the first time. People often think of watercolors as fragile or precious. Seeing this paint in such an unusually large scale can redefine the medium. I specifically want to paint water using water and didn’t want to limit my pieces to the usual sizes based on the paper I could buy. These larger scale pieces are painted to show the monumental nature of the subject (although none of them actually comes close). Glaciers are constantly on the move, so every image you see is gone in the next moment. I want to capture the strength, and that slice of time in each piece.
In other pieces, I don’t use paper at all but clayboard which is a surface that is not specifically made for watercolor. These surfaces lend themselves to interesting discoveries in terms of painting the ice up close or at a far distance. Ice itself is endlessly beautiful and I feel lucky to live in an area where I get to see it throughout one season out of the year. I search for ice in the Boston area and take photos of very close up images.
Painting ice that will last maybe 30 minutes or painting ice that is tens of thousands of years old is my passion. Once we are able to travel again, I hope to get to Greenland and see more of the ice on this planet. These pieces are meant to show the beauty and the astonishing visions of a world worth saving.
Like everyone else last year, I was unable to travel. In the spring of 2020, I was taking a painting class at Boston University as part of the Evergreen program for “senior” auditors. I was an adult in a class of about 20 undergraduate students. When March came around, and the school was shut down, all the classes went virtual.
We were given assignments that were manageable within our disparate group. Some of the students had gone home quickly and didn’t have supplies. Others were situated where there was no space to paint or create as they had been doing in the studios of BU. I found myself in my attic studio with my paints, really only able to create smaller works. And yet, class went on.
One assignment was to paint an “interior landscape” – what were we thinking about? What had captured our imaginations?
And it was just then, that we started to see images of animals taking over the places that humans had abandoned. Known as the “Anthropause,” animals moved quickly into “our” worlds. Monkeys took over streets in India, goats ranged the streets in Wales, and buffalo moved onto the beach on Catalina Island. In addition, places that were now off-limits, zoos and aquariums let animals loose in new places. So, otters were mixed with orangutans in Belgium, and penguins, in both Chicago and Kansas City (among other places) were able to explore the aquarium on their own or brought to roam local museums.
All of these paintings are based on actual photos (as crazy as that seems). They point to a time that is, hopefully, behind us when they represented my longings to be in these spaces.
In some ways, these two rooms are connected by the word “resilience.” I see resilience in the ice that has lasted for thousands of years and I see resilience in these animals that moved in as soon as we left.
In addition, I was so happy to be a witness to the resilience of these teachers at Boston University. And the resilience of teachers all over the world who stepped up and went above and beyond what they imagined their classes would look like when they came back from break in January, 2020. These animals are also a tribute to all of them.