Joanne Desmond and Sally Dion are uniquely gifted in their respective artistic pursuits and The Art Center in Dover, NH is showing the creative talents of these two women off to perfection in the new exhibition “What Lies Beneath The Surface” on display from November 11th through December 8th. Desmond and Dion are both printmakers, yet each expresses her work in completely unique ways; unique to each other and to the art of traditional printmaking, which is what makes this show so interesting.
When you meet Joanne Desmond you will find she is soft-spoken and typically doesn’t try to draw attention to herself. She is, as she says, “an observer”. But that is not all she is. She is also a vibrant, attractive, creative woman and she is whip-smart. Yet Desmond has found in her life that people often judge her based on that first impression. Over the course of 25 years of print and mixed-media art making, Desmond has explored multiple unconventional ways to express a basic message, a rebelling if you will, and that is - Don’t judge a book by its cover! Her encaustic (wax) works are particularly beautiful. In these, she prints on scraps of paper and fabric and sometimes adds found objects that she then embeds in layers of wax. There are sewn edges on some scraps and sewn words and phrases on others. Some are connected to each other with delicate threads. Seeing the encased images suspended within semi-transparent layers of wax creates a luscious complexity to Desmond’s work and showcases, with sublime effect, her intent to find the depth below the surface.
Sally Dion is a whirlwind of a woman. Warm and enthusiastic, she showcases many different approaches to printmaking and artistic expression in this exhibit. Of particular interest are amazing garments she has sown in bright fanciful colors and engaging silhouettes. But all is not as it seems. The dresses and jackets are manipulated so they are stiff and unyielding, almost standing on their own. If you take a closer look, there are faces printed on the fabrics – disturbingly sad and upset faces. I watched the show go up and noted that each is topped with a hat of fabric. “They are not hats, they’re helmets.” Dion said; then thoughtfully added, “Helmets of protection.” Dion has faced many hardships in her life and works out her hurts and regrets with her artwork. Each piece is a form of therapy for her, yet for the viewer, the whimsy one perceives from a distance to the pain one sees up close in her work is a jarring revelation. A response, I suspect, Dion intends for us to have.
The works of both of these artists will resonate with you long after you visit this exceptional show. “What Lies Beneath the Surface” will be on display until December 8th. You can meet both Joanne Desmond and Sally Dion at their Artists Reception this Friday, November 15th, from 6-8 PM.
The Art Center is located at 1 Washington Street in Dover, NH. This affair is free to the public with plenty of parking available. For more information please visit www.theartcenterdover.com or call 603-978-6702.