July 3 - 29, 2018
The artworks in this exhibition were completed during and after a very long and debilitating illness. As a result, the color palettes range from subdued and contemplative to ebullient and joyous. The inspiration for these autobiographical narrative bas relief paintings include my own hardy-tropical garden and the birds drawn to it, drawings made during a month-long Artist Residency in southeast Australia (undertaken with fellow Waterstone Gallery artist Martha Pfanschmidt), as well as travels around French Polynesia, Easter Island, Costa Rica and Oregon.
When I think about what makes a successful Rathbun artwork I think about emotional resonance first. The work must move me. It can be funny or poignant, but preferably both. It must have beauty. It must transcend my personal experience, so that another observer can recognize their own experience in it as well. It must have Hope.
The idea for the title piece of this exhibition came to me on a beach on Huahine, a small island in French Polynesia. I had been recovering my health slowly but still had not felt I had turned the corner to Hope of Recovery. And then I came upon this aged, battered and apparently dead snag of a tree. Miracle of miracles it was sprouting several patches of new growth. It was in that moment that I recognized my return to health. I realized I wasn’t feeling the need to protect myself constantly from another relapse, or from my own optimism for the future.
I am alive and back celebrating my life every day.
- R. Keaney Rathbun