Just as the elements have shaped and reshaped the natural world, they can serve as inspiration for those seeking to create and recreate the world they see around them.
Such is the feeling behind the Loft Artists Association’s exhibit, “Elements,” which opens with a reception Friday, June 10.
“The show theme is new,” association president Lisa Cuscuna said. “But elements have ... influenced artists throughout time.”
She said it was hoped that such a broad, yet equally focused theme — there are only four elements, earth, wind, fire and water — would give artists “lots of latitude and places to go.
“I hope it led people to be highly inspired and come up with something new,” Cuscuna continued. “I know it did that for me. This is a different kind of work than what I usually do.”
Cuscuna’s piece reflects a surreal scene of sky and water.
It is hoped that the work of the 22 loft artists in the show will encourage viewers to gain a new perspective on their surroundings.
For the artists in the show, it is careful attention to their environments that has produced the images that will be on display.
Norwalk resident Mark Macrides often visits the beach for inspiration.
“I like spaces that are really open,” he said, adding that such a space draws his eyes across the expanse of water out to the horizon.
In interpreting the real world, he channels it through an abstract view. In his piece, cool colors are expressed through geometric shapes.
“My work is influenced by ideas of objects moving through time and space, and the changes effected by the basic elements of air, earth and water,” he noted in an artist’s statement. “What happens in the places we cannot quite see; underneath the water, just past the horizon or beneath the surface of the earth.”
Macrides, who has taught art at New Canaan Country School for 25 years, is also on the association’s board of directors.
He said the theme was broad enough to not only serve as an umbrella for a number of styles, but it also drew in a diverse range of artists.
“This show gives you a great opportunity to see a really nice mix and broad range of artists,” he said.
Lynda James Carroll is one of those artists. Her “Storm Over D.C.” shows a sky with billowing clouds. Some are light and white, others dark.
Carroll first used her brush to depict these puffs of water vapor many years ago, when her daughter was a little girl.
“She would lie in the grass and look at the clouds above her,” Carroll said. “So I painted some above her bed, so she could look at them when she was inside.”
In the ensuing years, clouds began to appear in her more portable work — canvases that quickly were snatched up by others who seemingly liked to look at clouds, too.
“I think people start to see what they want to seen in them,” said Carroll, who lives in Wilton. “I think it can be soothing.”
The fact that clouds roll along uninhibited may just be one aspect of their appeal, she said.
“These are fairly uncontaminated scenes,” she said. “There are no buildings, no trees ... I think people feel the same way about water. When then they look at water ... it remains relatively uncontaminated visually.”
Carroll, who has taught digital photography and drawing at Greenwich High School for the past 13 years or so, said her images are often inspired by the pictures she takes of clouds while flying.
Even with a guide, though, she said recreating what essentially is vapor onto a two-dimensional surface has its challenges.
“I probably get more lost in layering, how to create that dimension of space,” she said. “There is a tendency to be heavy- handed with paint. But, when you paint those clouds, you need thin layers of paint to mimic what clouds are like.”
Cuscuna said she was looking forward to seeing the artists’ work, which are primarily paintings. She was expecting one sculptural piece.
But as much as the show is about coming inside to see the work, she said it will be interesting to see how it affects viewers once they go back outside.
“People are going to be out at the beach ... hiking in the woods,” she said. “Perhaps this will help them to focus on their surroundings and ask, ’how is this influencing me.’ ”
“Elements” will run June 10 to July 31 at the Loft Artists Gallery, 845 Canal St., Stamford. A free opening reception, featuring the show’s artists, will be 6 to 9 p.m., Friday, June 10. Gallery hours are 12-5 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 203-323-4153 or www.loftartists.com.
— Staff Writer Christina Hennessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-964-2241.