The Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes of the University of Maine at Fort Kent will feature Buckwheat, a solo exhibition of en plein air pastel paintings by UMFK's Adjunct Visual Arts Instructor, Therese L. Provenzano. En plein air is a French expression that describes an activity “in the open air.”
The fourteen pastel paintings in the exhibition are of the buckwheat fields in Wallagrass belonging to the Bouchard Family Farm of Joseph and Janice Bouchard.
Provenzano said, “If you wondered about the green vehicle, large white umbrella and easel set up on top of the hill at Wallagrass Scenic View, it was I. Three Septembers ago, I saw a red that glistened when buckwheat had just been harvested. I immediately parked my vehicle, unloaded my gear and got to work.”
Buckwheat documents how the fields change over time. The growing season is short and even shorter if your purpose is to paint just that red. It took three growing seasons to complete the body of work on location. A painter wrestles with an unexpected strong wind, the possibility of intermittent sun showers or a sudden downpour. It required an artist's patience and skill.
Provenzano shares this experience in a poem she wrote as her artist statement.
Each day is different.
There lies the challenge.
What's given is different.
What I see is different.
Mostly, the light changed.
Then, the field changed.
Patient, with intent,
I search for one constant
and rest my gaze on a shape that is familiar.
It grounds me to trust my instincts.
I take off, willingly.
I found myself in a place of wanting to paint
Bouchard's red that glistened.
I identify land with my grandfather.
He was a farmer of Wallagrass.
Provenzano continues, “Bouchard's buckwheat fields start off as a gamut of greens, to soft then deep burnt sienna, then salmon or yellow with red. Cloudy days and a cloudless sky brought the longest steady light. Partly sunny days brought an ever-changing light that produced ever-changing shapes. I want to be a purist in my approach. None of the paintings were done in a studio from a photograph. I did not internalize music, either. A direct and unfiltered experience with nature was essential to my process as the distant fields pulled me close.”
Lise Pelletier, director of the Acadian Archives acadiennes said, “Provenzano evokes not only the unique beauty of our geographical area in this body of work but also expresses what is special about the cultural heritage of the people who inhabit this land and are deeply rooted to it.”
The Bouchard Family Farm harvests buckwheat to make and sell their famous Ployes mix.
Ployes are a version of a crepe or pancake and are part of the Acadian culture of the St. John Valley.
In 2002, Provenzano left New York to reside at her great-grandfather's homestead in Wallagrass and to teach the visual arts and history of art at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. The Maine landscape and artifacts of Acadian culture have been and continue to be a source of inspiration for her work. Provenzano earned a Masters of Fine Arts from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts (formerly Philadelphia College of Art) and a Three-Year Certificate of the Fine Arts from the National Academy of Design School of the Fine Arts in New York. The Woodmere Art Museum of Philadelphia awarded her the Edith Emerson Prize Award at their Sixty-Sixth Annual Juried Exhibition. The Metropolitan Museum and Art Center of Coral Gables Florida awarded her the First Prize Award at the Fabric On, Third Annual International Design Competition. Presently, her charcoal drawings are traveling in an international group exhibition, Acadie Mythique, curated by Harlan Johnson, a Fine Arts faculty member of Dawson College in Montreal.
The gallery of Maine Farmland Trust in Belfast will exhibit Buckwheat in April 2015.
The Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or by appointment on weekends and evenings during the week.
The exhibition will be on display through March 20.
For more information on the exhibit, including purchases, please contact the Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes at (207) 834-7535. Please direct all inquiries concerning the purchase of a painting to the artist, Therese L. Provenzano at (207) 231-4593.