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The Arts Scene: Cave paintings serve as creative inspiration

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When I first viewed Betsy Bloomfield’s work a year or so ago at Collaboration Coffee, I thought it reminded me of the prehistoric Lascaux caves in France. After reading her artist’s statement on display at Oak Hollow, I know Bloomfield was indeed inspired by these ancient animal paintings as early as grade school.

She writes, “That early passion for cave paintings together with my life’s work in conservation science influence my creative expression.”

Just like those cave drawings, her work is playful and elegant. “Like a Paleolithic cave painter,” she continues, “I am drawn toward telling pictorial stories about the natural world. I believe our earliest human ancestors survived by absorbing the lessons of all other living things, and chronicled those lessons on cave walls, stones, bits of bone, wood and shell. I think our DNA holds the traces of those early artful storytellers, acting like ghostwriters urging us to listen to the whispers on the wind while we still can.”

Some of the work, in the exhibition “Parting Time’s Curtain” at Oak Hollow, is illuminated from behind, allowing an almost mystical glow to the animals. In other pieces, such as “Who Let the Cat Out?” the edges of the piece are not quite evident, creating almost a suddenness of movement. The background of the work is reminiscent of the cave walls. Says Bloomfield: “I relish exploring the attributes of different media and found objects, especially when layered upon each other to arrive at something more ruggedly organic or more nuanced. I love the colors and textures of earth, stone, grass, bark, fur and metal. A snip of feather or a milkweed seed may get embedded in sedimentary layers of pigment to lend structure or impression. “

You can enjoy her exhibit, “Parting Time’s Curtain,” at Oak Hollow through Oct. 1.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. He writes this weekly column for SCENE. Learn more at www.larsongallery.org.

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