The People’s Choice Award: Laurie Alberts
2: Laurie Alberts
Paint images of the Connecticut River through time
I reside in southern Vermont. My first creative incarnation was as a novelist and professor of creative writing. After publishing eight books, I started painting and never looked back. I have studied oil painting with artists Rosemary Ladd, Charlie Hunter, Julia Jensen, Michelle Dunaway, Pam Ingalls, Mary Giammarino, Kate McGloughlin, and others. I am currently represented by The DaVallia Gallery in Chester, VT and the Geary Gallery in Darien, CT. My work has also appeared in juried shows in VT, NH, and N Y State. Six months a year I row my solo racing scull on a stretch of the Connecticut River. The river – in all its seasons and permutations – often appears in my work. I frequently use cold wax medium mixed with oil paint because it increases luminosity and its thickness and malleability allow for scraping, scratching, and the overlay of colors and textures. Its inherent imprecision creates possibilities–directions I might not have intended, paths I want to follow.
My project is a personal and cultural/environmental/historical response to the Connecticut River. Six years ago, I learned to row a single racing scull and the river became an essential part of my life and my art. I am moved by the river’s natural beauty but also intrigued by the remains of our river-focused industrial past as well as the presence of an indigenous habitation preceding ours. These two realities – the natural and the human perspectives on the Connecticut River – will inform the works I intend to complete during the 12 months of the project period. In order to create reverberations between eras, I will incorporate into my painting or juxtapose historical images of the river and river towns, reproductions of 19th century paintings, vintage postcards and photos, and, only if granted permission by Elnu-Abenaki tribal leaders, images of the petroglyphs in Bellows Falls. I plan to complete 12-15 new oil and mixed media paintings for exhibition. I hope that these works will invite viewers to the possibilities of knowing, interacting with, and perhaps helping to protect this vital resource. I will seek Vermont venues for an exhibition, including museums, art centers, and public use spaces. I believe my project could have meaning for a broader audience than just those who might be regular gallery or museum goers. There are many who use the river recreationally and there are those who live near the river or work in the power stations owned now by Hydro-Quebec. My goal is for viewers to have an opportunity to see images of our river both new and old in order to be exposed to different perspectives on the river’s import and impact as well as its vulnerability to development and climate change. Additionally, I hope that my paintings will allow others to experience the spiritual and transcendent presence of an enormous body of water, ever moving, shaping the land and being shaped by the land and its inhabitants as it travels through time and space.
Requiem for the Atlantic Salmon mock-up. “Dams on the Connecticut River decimated the species by preventing them from reaching their spawning streams upriver.”
Tankers on the Siding. “Before trains, the river was the transport corridor. These tankers have been sitting on these tracks for years, sidelined and seemingly abandoned.”
Fields and Flow. “A bird’s eye view of river farms. The fields provide a lovely contrast to the waters but they also create fertilizer and pesticide run-off issues.”