Seascape, shoreline and sand are intertwined for artist Marilyn Banner, and her artworks convey feelings of walking on the beach, hearing waves and feeling sea air.
“There’s a mystery and depth, the thoughts and mental meanderings that you might have when you’re wandering on the beach,” said the Takoma Park, Md., resident. “There are so many shells that used to house animals, and the water comes and goes, and takes things away. It’s like life: It brings things in and it washes away as soon as you’ve wandered by.”
Her encaustic series, “When Looking Down Becomes Up,” is on display through May 30 at the McLean Project for the Arts’ Ramp Gallery, along with exhibits by two other artists.
Starting in 1984, Banner worked in mixed media sculpture, assemblage and installation, then in 1998 switched to printing on fabric and creating large collages with handmade papers.
Banner discovered encaustic painting in 2003 after taking an intensive, weeklong course in what to her was a new medium. She has worked solely in encaustics since 2004, describing the medium as “very versatile.”
“It is perfect for my sensibility (tactile and expressive) and my interest in meaning and content,” she said. “There is a special feeling to working with the naturalness of encaustic, knowing I am working with substances from bees (beeswax) and trees (damar resin).”
The medium also has disadvantages, such as needing much electricity, a hot palette, a heat source to fuse the layers of wax and a ventilation system or easy access to a window fan, Banner said.
“I want people who see the work to be able to have their minds wander, to have their emotions moved, and to have their souls nourished,” she said.
MPA’s Emerson Gallery is showing artist David Carlson’s “Water Unspoken,” the arts group’s first all-video exhibition. MPA officials draped tarpaulins over the gallery’s six skylights to obtain sufficient darkness to display the videos, said exhibitions director Nancy Sausser.
Watching the videos, which feature endlessly changing swirls of water, light and color, is mesmerizing and soothing.
“The videos unfold,” Sausser said. “David is a longtime practitioner of tai chi and the works are reflective of that, in terms of their quietude.”
Carlson’s project began more than two years ago. He videotaped water in New York state’s Adirondack Mountains, edited the different compositions and produced the final works on Blu-ray disks.
“Time of day, weather conditions and proximity all played a part in considering what I shot,” he said of the mountain videography.
An abstract painter, Carlson found he could work separately on either the videos or painting, but not both simultaneously, as the required mentalities were too divergent.
MPA’s Atrium Gallery is filled with the botanical paintings and pinwheel sculptures of “Vernal Efflorescence: New Works by Jill Parisi.”
The artist, who is spending this academic year in the District of Columbia, normally divides her time between the Washington area and upstate New York, where she teaches print-making as an associate professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Parisi prints almost exclusively on handmade papers and burns each component of her works with a lace-like network of holes.
“My works have a great deal of detail and color in order to work from a macro and micro viewpoint,” she said. “Mostly I am interested in creating a sense of wonder, beauty and joy.”
She exhibits some of her works in shadowboxes, which aid in the display’s maintenance and longevity. Other artworks are pinned on walls like insect specimens, which allows their components to be stirred lightly by air movements of passersby.
“I am very interested in nature’s small life-forms and exquisite shapes and textures,” she said, citing “the beauty of an acorn and how that feels in your hand, the subtle colors of lichen here in the east, or the vividly toned ones in the western U.S. I observe both in the wild, and specimens, and am fascinated by cross-sections, microscopic imagery and botanical illustration.”
MPA is located upstairs at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave., and is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. MPA will be closed on Saturday, May 16, but will hold a Spring Benefit on May 13. For more information about the exhibits and MPA, visit www.mpaart.org or call (703) 790-1953.