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To See the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie
True Poems Flee
– Emily Dickinson
By Elin Spring
Perhaps it is the relentless acrimony of our times, but I have been noticing more and more photographers creating landscapes these days. Of course, artists have been making landscapes from the beginning of time for myriad reasons, but lately I sense a visual flight from division toward wholeness, from anxiety toward tranquility. Vaughn Sills’ solo exhibit, True Poems Flee, is a lyrical response to her mother’s life and recent death, a personal deliverance from coming unmoored, but her soulful turn to the natural world is perfectly timed to our larger cultural longing for a sense of peace. True Poems Flee is on view at the Trustman Art Gallery at Simmons University in Boston through November 9th, 2018, with a Reception on Thursday, October 18th from 5:00 – 7:00pm and an Artist Talk on Thursday, October 25th at 6:00pm.
Sills’ photographs are both earthly and ethereal, reflecting our mortal search for spiritual salvation. Created in the remote, halcyon surroundings of her mother’s home on Prince Edward Island, Sills’ compositions seem to search the horizon, with its implication of “both the finite and infinite.” Her alluring skylines appear at dawn and early light, in haze and clarity, murkiness and contrast. Water is often featured, bearing its inherent duality of life and death: in “Rhapsody in Blue”, a black sky parts, allowing a thin, miraculous, silver streak along the ocean’s dark horizon; on a fog-cloaked morning in “Between the Light and Me”, a still lake gives way to a haze of forested mountains beyond, both obscuring and beckoning passage. Fog has a symbolic life of its own in many of Sills’ photographs.
Others of Sills’ images are rooted in the northern foliage and deep orange soil of Prince Edward Island, registering both its warmth and bleakness in her expansive frames. Sills offers eloquent, fleeting, in-between moments in the changing light of “When the Day Breaks from Night” and in “Being Here”, wherein a lone, kneeling girl searches for treasure in a pool that will soon disappear with the inevitable tide. “A Room of Her Own” is both a wistful remembrance and a frank acknowledgement of the blink of our existence, pictured in the diminutive, solid cabin on a sweeping terrain. Sills embraces our transience, her gentle palette wafting us toward a fervently sought serenity, her compositions expressing that exquisite synergy of joy and sorrow that define our tenuous existence.
For more information about this exhibit, go to: http://www2.simmons.edu/trustman/exhibits/2018/true-poems-flee/
Feature Image: “Being Here, 2018” (Detail) by Vaughn Sills (courtesy of the artist).