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'Rhythm of Nature' at Montpelier Arts Center through Sept. 28

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Photo by Wanda Jackson. "Eve" is a watercolor work by Montpelier Arts Center's resident artist, Irene Sylvester.

Photo by Wanda Jackson. "Eve" is a watercolor work by Montpelier Arts Center's resident artist, Irene Sylvester.

Published on: Friday, September 21, 2012

By Wanda Jackson

Through representation of a bird and woman, artist Irene Sylvester creates collages that explore the passing of time and placement in the universe.

Sylvester says that the two symbols represent her “connection with nature and the universe.”

Sylvester’s works are being exhibited at the Montpelier Arts Center in Laurel through Sept. 28. “Rhythm of Nature” includes 17 mixed media, collage and watercolor collage works.

In “Eve,” the first work Sylvester created for the exhibit, a woman peers through autumn colored, dense foliage. The figure’s laser-like eyes catch every movement and, according to Sylvester, show not only “vulnerability” but also the ability to be strong and tough.

“She’s coming into her own,” said Sylvester.

“Patterns” is a total abstract.

“They are patterns in the sense of sewing,” said Sylvester, whose background includes dress design in her native New York. “It tied the abstract quality I was interested in as well as the statement of having done patterns and laying them out.”

A closer look reveals that the work is “really a man’s vest.” And, according to Sylvester, several people have commented that individual pieces in the work “look like jazz instruments.” The collage work uses dots, curves and formal shapes made of paper. However, it looks like fabric.

“It’s mostly black and gray and white, very graphic,” said Sylvester. “And to keep it interesting, rather than flat, it has texture.”

It is rough, bumpy, slick, scratchy, smooth, silky, soft, prickly, but accurately dynamic.

Sylvester studied art and music in high school, and dress design at the Traphagen Fashion Institute and New York University. Her work can be found in permanent collections of the Federal Reserve Bank Fund, The American Security Bank headquarters, the Brazilian Embassy, the Charles Sumner School Museum in D.C., and numerous private collections in the United States and abroad.

Sylvester is a resident artist at Montpelier, where she teaches watercolor and collage.

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