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  • Emma Hines

Monthly Artist Salon at Roost Studios in Full Swing

This past Sunday The Roost Studios hosted the second gathering for artists during the Creative Conversations series. Artists Jing Shuai, Stacie Flint and Michael Nighswonger presented dramatically diverse works of art and interesting concepts during this fun and thought-provoking evening.

Jing Shuai

The first thing the audience noticed when observing at Jing Shuai’s work was her immaculate and balanced presentation. This choice by the artist reflects the subject and style of her work. As the 16th generation successor to the Wu Dang San Feng Taoist martial arts lineage, Jing Shuai is greatly inspired by the balance of equal and opposite forces in the world and strives to portray this harmony. She thoughtfully described the patience and dedication necessary to master Tai Chi and how this understanding of the practice informs her visual art. Her strokes are subtle yet focused, and many of her compositions contain a great balance of subject matter and space that allows them to breathe.

Shuai’s choice of material reflects traditional Chinese methods of painting on rice paper and silk and sometimes on wood panels, guided by the natural grain of the wood to create her compositions. Some of the audience members alluded to the interesting continuation of information as a single cherry blossom tree flowed from one fabric scroll to the next, creating a kind of continuous story that appeared to live on outside of the confines of the scroll. This choice created a dialogue with the art and the culture it was inspired by. Jing Shuai’s imagery is ego-less and tranquil, and undeniably embodies her philosophy.

Stacie Flint

If you want to be transported to a serene and wonderful refuge, take a look at Stacie Flint’s paintings. Her colorful canvases immediately transport the viewer to times of carefree loveliness, described by some as ‘dreamlike.’ I found her work to be reminiscent of the small moments in life that make us sit back and remember how fortunate we are for the small, fleeting treasures that are sprinkled in our lives. Of course life can not always be sunshine and rainbows, but Flint chooses to focus her work on positive imagery and bright, unabashed colors that remind us that things aren’t so bad after all.

Flint’s paintings show recognizable imagery such as a welcoming home shaded by trees, and hungry chickens foraging for quick bites. The freedom of her brush strokes refer to the ever-present movement in the world as the paintings are teeming with life and a daring amount of optimism. When given a the platform to speak about her work, Flint said that she wants her paintings to reflect the immense joy and love she feels when she makes them. By choosing to represent this joy, she not only shares it with her viewers, but consequently creates more of it in the world, which I believe is Stacie Flint’s superpower.

Michael Nighswonger

Michael is an abstract expressionist who creates highly emotional imagery on large canvases. The first comments made about his work during the conversation were about the unapologetic strength and power they seemed to radiate. Some described a few of the paintings as full of life, reminiscent of swarming insects on a hot summer day, or a surge of energy. They all contained feelings of movement and his use of vertical and primitive, ecstatic lines contributed to this sensation. When I asked Nighswonger about choice to work on such a large scale, he replied that this was just the size that allowed him to create most freely, and allowed his imagination to take flight across the canvas. His organic and explosive marks are in conversation with, but separate from his choice of color and the components retain their individuality within his compositions.

Nighswonger talked about the importance of spontaneity in his work, which became very apparent when in the middle of a conversation regarding one painting, he jumped up, took hold of the 5 foot by 8 foot painting, and flipped it 90 degrees to allow the audience to literally have a new perspective on it. This brash and unexpected motion encompassed the style of the work. Nighswonger is also someone interested in giving back to the community, and created a program called “Kids and Kanvases” that gives a child an easel and canvas of their choice, with the promise of returning in a month with a completed piece. Nighswonger urges the children not to take any advice from others and simply create what they desire. This is how Nighwonger aims to support artistic endeavors in young people and he will be showing the work on May 11th at a reception for the children.

I am thrilled by the quality of conversations happening at The Roost and I have complete faith that this event will continue to nourish the artistic community in the Hudson Valley. If you’d like to be involved, the next artist Salon will be held May 26th showcasing the work of Yvette Diaz, Mel Hyman, and one lucky student at SUNY New Paltz. After that we will be having a salon on June 23rd with Susan Slotnick, Ujula Schwartz, Rita Bolla-Laptine, and Howard Miller. Hope to see you there!

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