My art encompasses multiple concerns and reflects a diversity of interests. A body of work in progress develops a synthesis, through sculpture, of mythic content and images from daily life. Previously my art was an expression of a deep concern for the well-being of the world, for the world-psyche. In this phase I created the installation In Flanders Fields: A Meditation on War.
An ongoing fascination with Nature and Her processes inspires what might be seen as abstraction. My work attempts to transcend mere illustration of Nature’s great power, instead to embody that power within its forms.
As I make my art, I am attracted to the rough places and to the archetypal realms where myth holds sway. I pan for the gold that surfaces when an image is exposed, its story dismantled and its secret meaning revealed. The detritus from such a process is what might be called “the art”.
I draw inspiration from Nature, from every landscape I have loved and been moved by, from music, poetry, theater – I jokingly say I am a person interested in everything, and it is true.
Fran Bull's art has been shown worldwide for over 30 years. She studied painting at Bennington College and in 1980 she earned an M.A. degree from New York University in Art and Art Education. Upon graduation from Bennington in 1960, Bull embarked upon a professional life in art.
In 1986, determined to find a personal voice, she set out on a solitary retreat to rural Ireland and delved into the writings of Carl Jung and Jungian analyst Marion Woodman. Bull's affinity for the Jungian literature would come to exert a profound influence on her art.
Since that time Bull’s artistic output has included performance art, sculpture, mixed media, printmaking and set design, as well as painting. She has been especially prolific in the area of printmaking, creating numerous bodies of work that have received high recognition through several significant awards.
Fran Bull lives and works in Brandon, Vermont where she established Gallery in-the-Field, a fine art gallery and performance space, whose mission is to present the work of provocative, innovative living artists.
The multi-layered imagery of my work is prompted by an intuitive response to world events and cultures, nature and Jungian psychology, and the conventions of visual and verbal language.
The title of each work provides a literal or metaphorical frame of reference into the visual riddles of mixed metaphors, puns, illusions, allusions, and symbolic thought. I call this synthesis "allegorical realism."
While allegories represent meaning symbolically, realism regards things in their "true" nature. "Allegorical realism" is a paradoxical entry into the liminal realm where the symbolic, the metaphoric, and the real inform each other.
Painter Nina Benedetto comes to her easel with fresh perspectives, perhaps in part because she is both a first-generation Czech-Mexican-American (maternal), and a second-generation Italian-Irish-American (paternal). From this rich heritage, it is clear that she has developed a "pan-cultural" appreciation of imagery which is fully embodied in the nature of her work, and further enriched by travel experiences and her own children's marriages into Hindu and Buddhist families.
But there is also an additional layer of sensibility: it may be not be surprising to those who hear her gentle accent to learn that Nina grew up in the special setting of the Old South, where she was the middle child of nine.
She has had many opportunities to teach art appreciation and art skills to individuals and classes at every level, to students of all ages in New England, the Carolinas, Georgia, Texas, and California.
On most days, Nina can be found painting in her home studio on the South Shore of Southeastern Massachusetts.
If a fire were to erupt in my house I’d rush to save my art journals – a notebook collection of clippings, sketches, and scribbles. These are where my images originate. (I started to call them ideas, but “idea” implies a plan.)
I use clippings of artwork throughout the ages to inspire. The sketches/scribbles – done in free-associating down time, not on a routine basis – generate complex imagery that I often use when I start an art project.
People ask me what my paintings, drawings, and sculpture mean. I don’t know – narratives are not planned in advance. I don’t read studies on archetypal or Jungian theories; I prefer to simply enjoy the adventure. After an art series is complete, certain themes (to my mind) are revealed. It doesn’t bother me if other people see other themes or imagine stories.
In general I describe the work as visionary.
Since 1980 Joan Curtis has exhibited throughout New England and in invitationals elsewhere. Her work is in the collections of Middlebury College Museum of Art (Middlebury, VT), the Robert Hull Fleming Museum (Burlington, VT), the Fuller Museum of Art (Brockton, MA), SUNY Adirondack (Queensbury, NY), and in many private collections.
Curtis, whose home is in Brandon, Vermont, studied studio art at Rhode Island School of Design and Chicago Art Institute with an undergraduate degree from New York University in art history, and has been very active in various Vermont art communities.
Most of the first fourteen years of my life were spent living in New York City with access to major museums. Many hours were spent wandering around these buildings looking at great works of art. My parents were art collectors and music lovers, and visual art and music was prominent in our lives. Despite this exposure, it never crossed my mind to make a career of being an artist until much later.
By the time I was twenty I found myself in college at Northeastern University in Boston wondering how I’d managed to end up in a school that was at the time geared towards engineering and technology. At this point, I began to draw pictures of images that I made up. Robert Wells, an art professor at Northeastern, was good enough to verify my suspicions by telling me that he felt my continued attendance at this school focused on engineering and business sciences didn’t really make sense. Thus I wound up at New England School of Art and eventually the Boston Museum School.
Since that time the act of creating has developed into a way of depicting the sense and order of outer life through allusions and organization which cannot always be achieved in living, but is rendered somehow possible as an illusion set down onto a two dimensional surface. This has been a process of finding and developing a mode of expression for those things at which words seem to fail. Many times this process has served to illuminate an aspect of something that, left to my own devices, I might have decided it was ‘easier’ to not see. Although fulfilling, this ‘adventure’ has not always been a comfortable trip. However, the fascination of watching some of these works literally seem to make themselves has in the end more than outweighed any discomfort experienced along the way.
From the very outset, my art has become a way of being able to get into and at many of these possibilities within and onto a single picture plane. They’ve become for me a recognition of how, despite its wide ranges of trial and joy, life and being alive is a very interesting state in which to find oneself. This is why making these works has ultimately seemed not only the most ‘sensible’ thing to do, but is perhaps the one thing that I have some sense of really knowing how to do.