Welcome to Perspectives. This section is devoted to a discussion of the artwork of Linda Durkee. It will feature essays by the artist, interpretation by guest writers, commentary in the press, and other contributions.
News Release, October 2016
Friends of the Library of Collier County Features Exhibit by Artist Linda Durkee in the West Wing Art Gallery
Naples, Florida – Friends of the Library of Collier County will feature the exhibition of paintings and collages by Linda Durkee in the West Wing Art Gallery located at the Naples Regional Library.
The exhibit runs from October 3 to October 31, 2016 and showcases work using a variety of media and techniques.
Ms. Durkee is a local artist residing in Naples, Florida. A native Vermonter, she moved to Naples in 2014 after living for 14 years in the Green Mountain state. Prior to that, she lived in Geneva, Switzerland, and Washington, D.C.
She received her B.A. from Manhattanville College and M.A. from Georgetown University. Her careers have included, in addition to art, communications, speechwriting, journalism, and teaching. Poetry and photography are life-long pursuits.
Ms. Durkee has been making art since 1980. Her work has been widely exhibited in the United States, and is in private collections in the United States, Europe, and Canada.
It is known for its vibrant colors and dynamic shapes that draw on the vocabulary of nature to capture landscapes and mindscapes. She is particularly engaged in creating archetypal images of women, and uses cutout shapes as a form of drawing.
The Friends of the Library West Wing Art Gallery is located in the west wing of the Naples Regional Library, 650 Central Avenue, Naples. Operated by the Friends of the Library of Collier County since the late 1990s, the gallery provides a public venue for talented local artists to display their works. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The West Wing Art Gallery is closed Sundays and on holidays. For further information on the West Wing Art Gallery or Friends of the Library, call 239-262-8135 or online at www.collier-friends.org.
Vermont News Guide, October 1, 2013:
“Known for traditional New England landscape painting, the Arts Center is placing special emphasis this year on artists who are finding new ways to express America’s landscape. The exhibition runs from October 5 to November 17 in the Yester House Galleries. It will include works by Ian Marion, Robert Carsten, Leslie Parke, Elizabeth Allen, Linda Durkee, and others.” The exhibition features works from more than 100 artists across the United States.
Linda Durkee’s collage Protectress is presented in The Country and Abroad magazine in conjunction with the Southern Vermont Arts Center. It may be seen in the Collages Gallery.
VTica Blog Post: The Miracle of Now
My collage “The Miracle of Now” illustrates and shares its name with a blog post by Abby Raeder, director and co-founder of the Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts. Her essay uses my collage as an inspiration for her discussion of the power of art to transform and heal.
Collage: A Special Freedom
by Linda Durkee
My life in art started in collage. Coming from Vermont, I had experienced the glorious colors of the seasons, each surging to fill its time with a different palette unique to the particular cycle of the calendar. Coming into New York City from Manhattanville College where I was an undergraduate, I experienced for the first time some of the finest museums in the world. A new universe unfolded.
Out of this opening of eye and soul came my first collage – a large, evolving work composed of cutouts from magazines – on the yellow wall in my dorm room in Spellman Hall. Later I would use materials that I had created, but then images from magazines sufficed, taking me through the Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit’s hole to the inner world that art and literature afforded. I loved that collage.
Fascination with collage emerged again when, as a Maryland high school English teacher, I saw the pages of Henri Matisse’s book – Jazz – under glass cabinets at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. I now own a copy of that book, purchased from a collectibles dealer in Vermont who found it at the bottom of a box of fabric.
When I subsequently encountered the exhibition of Matisse’s collage cutouts at the East Wing of the National Art Gallery in Washington, DC, I was thoroughly smitten. His collages – walls large – dazzled. Climbing the stairs to see them in the top gallery felt like a pilgrimage, even as it does today.
In 2001, when I came home to Vermont, my passion for collage resurfaced. Increasingly, I had come to see life as a mixture of things, and collage allowed me to draw on all my experiences, feelings, thoughts – and materials. In fact, I had kept nearly every paper on which I had made an art mark, turning these into my bank of materials, my cloth.
By cutting shapes from images from many years, I tapped into the sense and substance of the fabric of my own life as I had lived it and made art from life as I saw it. Each new shape from a different time conjured sensations long latent. I put them into new juxtapositions, often starting with a central shape – like a vase, or the archetypal shape of a woman. I thought of sonnets, which have a repetitive discipline, yet are unique, not unlike humans, who are the same yet different. The process of combining the universal with the individual became a working mantra.
The process flourished. I cut from paintings and drawings I had done; from photographs I had taken, often of flower I had planted; and from paper painted just for particular colors. Often the shapes left after the cutouts were made became new pieces used in the work. The act of cutting seemed a form of drawing, and discovering the line had its own dynamic. I glued, painted over and under and around, added more pieces, drew in ink, all the while building the collage until it was a fused whole.
During this period, I again encountered collage in a visit to the National Art Gallery’s East Wing, this time to see the Romare Bearden exhibition. His groundbreaking, breathtaking, beautiful work ignited a desire to make more and bigger collages. I came home to a winter, and made three warm collages, one of them 20 x 30 inches, titled Transformation.
Now I am also using cutouts from my photographs; creating iconic women collages with titles like Joie de Vivre, Protectress, Heart Warrior, Soulfarer, Dreamer; and contemplating making large-scale pieces.
For this work, nature offers a ready inventory of shapes and colors. It presents a kaleidoscopic repertoire of imagery. It is a replenishing resource that yields a vocabulary of shapes and colors, which speak from the spirit and the heart.
I believe collage inspires a special freedom: to embrace the mixture of things in life – within and without – and to create from these pieces and parts, new wholes that are of time and transcend it.
Seven Days Review of Exhibition at ArtPath Gallery
Vermont art critic Marc Awodey reviewed the exhibition of work by Linda Durkee and three other artists at ArtPath Gallery in Burlington, VT, in 2008. Writing in the May 28, 2008, issue of Seven Days, he said: “The shows represent solid bodies of work by a quartet of Vermont painters.”
In discussing her work, Awodey said: “Henri Matisse famously described collage as ‘drawing with scissors,’ and Durkee’s collages reflect that tradition. She writes, ‘My imagery looks to nature for the vocabulary of shapes and colors.’ Indeed, the Danby-based artist organizes those shapes and colors into intricately rhythmic abstractions.”
“Transformation,” he continued, presents a “horizontal scene with finely cut layers of shapes rolling along undulating green hills beneath a cerulean-blue firmament.”
Note: If you would like to contribute to Perspectives, please contact Linda Durkee at email@example.com.