The Arts Scene: Interpreting artists and their work

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Perception has always been an idea that is intriguing: how we organize, interpret and process what we experience — basically, how we see things. We interpret what we experience through our knowledge, experiences and thoughts. Our perceptual experience involves our attitudes, beliefs and values. This has become even more apparent recently by how we perceive what is happening in our world and how we make decisions.

Artists take their knowledge, experiences and thoughts and create an experience, for the viewer and for themselves. So, as the viewer, can we interpret how the artist sees things?

The newest work by Jen Borst just opened at Collaboration Coffee and I was curious if I could understand a little about how she perceives the world and how she illustrates her perception through her work.

Borst shared with the audience at her opening reception that she felt these were the first actual paintings not created under stress. She said the creation of movement in the paintings was “oddly cathartic.”

I spoke to her about her use of chalk paint, and what she shared was the ability of the medium to make clean lines. There was nothing painted that would cause an interruption to the visual continuity. Everything flowed with smooth, clean lines.

Her first show in over two years provided her with a lot of time for thought, “and has become a form of needed therapy and meditation. Each line and layer builds upon, follows and sometimes pulls apart from the others, creating an odd, yet calming symmetry.”

During the opening at Collaboration Coffee, Borst was asked about if it was more difficult to work on larger pieces — and she said it’s the opposite, that she spent more time agonizing over the smaller ones. By the time the reception started, the largest piece and several others had already sold.

All the works in her exhibition, “Climbing Notes,” represent landscape scenes, especially mountains and rivers. She said if she was a climber, she would “take notes.” In a way, she has taken notes through her paintings. She has shared her knowledge, experiences and thoughts about these landscapes and shared them with us. It’s her interpretation of how she perceives the world.

The exhibition “Climbing Notes” will be on display at Collaboration Coffee, 18 S. First St. in Yakima, until Feb. 29.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. Learn more at

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