During a six-week-long road trip in the summer of 2019, Lily Prince, a William Paterson University professor of art, stood on the side of dry desert roads in the western U.S. and created a series of oil pastel drawings en plein air of the landscape.
These drawings are the inspiration for American Beauty, a solo exhibition that features acrylic paintings on canvas, oil pastels on paper and watercolor and gouache paintings created by Prince over the past two years, at the Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY. The exhibition, her first solo show with the gallery, runs through October 17.
“In summer 2019, I began a much-needed search for tangible beauty in our country,” says Prince. “In these times of environmental and societal devastation, I consider it a political act to immerse myself in the landscape to record the natural beauty lurking there: to incite the arousal of sentiment, a stirring of connectedness.”
After she created the en plein air drawings during her trip, she used them as information and inspiration to create larger paintings in her barn studio located in New York’s Hudson Valley that dates back to the 1850s.
Prince, who considers herself an explorer, studies the atmosphere of the diverse landscapes she encounters and applies these experiences in her drawings and paintings. Her observational style incorporates the rhythms of the hills, fields, distant mountains, and shifting skies as she turns the abstract chaos of nature into evocative images.
According to Prince, her works represent “a visceral connection to nature and the energy emanating from a specific, evocative terrain,” as well as her constant longing to return to a place of extreme beauty. “During these difficult, dark times, nature is the most healing energy we have. Connecting to that, and disseminating the beauty from it, is a powerful force for change.”
“During the past year and a half of the pandemic, I worked every day in my studio. It helped keep me sane and it gave me hope,” says Prince. “Although it was a struggle to be creating something positive in a time of such anxiety and hopeless destruction, it felt absolutely necessary and life-affirming.”
Prince received the prestigious Krasner-Pollack award in 2020 for painting and has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally. Her works have been featured in prestigious galleries where she has had solo exhibitions, including Littlejohn Contemporary, New York City; Cross Contemporary, Saugerties, NY; and in the Art on Paper Fair, New York, NY.
She served as artist-in-residence at the Olana New York State Historic Site and has been awarded artist residencies at Draftsmen’s Congress at The New Museum, New York; BAU Institute, Italy; and Galerie Huit, Arles, France. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, New York magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, and New American Paintings, among numerous others. Prince created all the visual art for two books by author Richard Klin: Abstract Expressionism for Beginners (For Beginners Books, 2016) and Something to Say: Thoughts on Art and Politics in America (Leapfrog Press, 2011). Her works can be viewed at www.lilyprince.com.
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