Portfolio... > Essays & Reviews

Within One Room
by Sarah A. Wadelton

To touch the water, you have to touch the waves.
- Thich Nhat Hanh

Within each of us is a place where no-birth and no-death co-exist. Through the paintings that share this exhibition, Ross and Ford invite us to enter that space, but offer different routes. To begin on either path, the illusion of boundaries must end.

In Ross’s work, boundaries fade to reveal an inherent order that does not depend upon constraint. Her paintings are like stained glass windows with the lead cames removed: form and color maintain their integrity, but the lines of demarcation have dissolved. In Ross’s luminous and fluid works, separation between the terrestrial and the celestial, matter and spirit, being and non-being, is disappearing. Assured by the physical elements’ innate capacity to meet with equanimity the infinite nature of being, the viewer is encouraged to step gracefully through distinct apertures into another, deeper dimension of the self.

Ford eliminates boundaries with startling force. Her images suggest a landscape after a natural disaster, or perhaps the serpent has gotten into Eden. Divine order has been destroyed, thrusting us into the mess of life. But catastrophe is itself a shared space of distress and possibility. The gateways to the soul that open and unfold in Ross’s work are present in Ford’s, but they have been obscured by the storm. To discover points of entry here, the viewer must first tease apart the wreckage. In Ford’s work, the way to inner reconciliation is through discernment – the act of separating light from dark, the firmament from the seas.

Despite the energetic and stylistic differences between Ross and Ford’s approaches, entering either artist’s world is to be also present with the other. On one level Ross and Ford’s paintings can be seen as images of “before” and “after” – but which is which? Is chaos the raw material (the beginning) or the inevitable fate (the end) of order? The larger truth illustrated in these works is that both exist simultaneously. Ross and Ford’s art bravely and beautifully makes visible the space in which this union is possible, beckoning us home.

Sarah A. Wadelton is a writer living in Brooklyn.

Shared Space: Monique Ford & Susan Ross was on view May 26 - June 18, 2011
at The Painting Center. For more information, visit www.thepaintingcenter.org

Within One Room
by Sarah A. Wadelton

Essay for Shared Space: Monique Ford & Susan Ross at The Painting Center
May 26 - June 18, 2011