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For years in Louisville, I saw the collages of Teri Dryden, and was riveted by her uncanny ability to place together every piece of torn paper to create a perfectly unified field of incongruent, yet visually connected torn scraps. Her collages vibrate with decisively placed color and shape. Symphonies of seemingly random, yet innately balanced pieces of torn edges, rough contrasting pigments and typography sing a hallelujah chorus of undeniable strength and boldness.
“i plunge into each piece of work as if it were an adventure into the unknown. with no specific outcome in mind, i respond to the changes in the picture as i explore and interact with materials by layering paint and paper, scratching, sanding and marking, creating open spaces, altering and adjusting,” Teri says.
“i move between intuition and logic; chaos and order. being aware and open, taking risks with the materials, as well as the struggle itself allows me to be in the moment to reflect and interpret a history that evolves on the canvas before my eyes.
Teri Dryden’s unorthodox path to becoming an artist began with immersion in an ancient art form in which she, herself was the medium. A theatre major at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, she excelled in physical expression and comedy. At the urging of an instructor, she auditioned and won a coveted spot as one of the few female clowns in the Ringling Brothers’ Barnum and Bailey Circus. For two unforgettable years, she performed in every state in the U.S. in one of the most colorful and visually stimulating environments imaginable.
She then moved to Los Angeles and became an award-winning stage actress, but left the stage when her first child was born. After making beautiful fiber art for several years, Teri decided to take an art class, and discovered a latent talent and passion for painting and drawing. During a remarkably short and prolific period, she won several awards and sold dozens of paintings and drawings to rapt fans who recognized her unique sense of composition and color in dramatic florals and still-lives. She feels she has found her true aesthetic after discovering the fascinating world of mixed media and collage.
She is a member of the collage artists of America, National Collage Society and Women Painters West. Her work is included in many private and public collections and has been exhibited in numerous solo, group and juried exhibitions across the country.
The rich legacy of abstract/non-objective/non-referential art has, at times, been pushed aside, discarded or deemed irrelevant by “cultural dictators” who believe these art forms are antiquated, exhausted or insignificantly decorative. On the contrary, abstract based art is the most universal of all visual languages and the most liberated/liberating artistic expression for both artist and audience.
Kirk Varnedoe, art historian and former Curator of the Museum of Modern Art, commented in Pictures of Nothing (one of his epic published works) – “Abstract art has been with us in one form or another for almost a century now, and has proved to be not only a long-standing crux of cultural debate, but a self-renewing, vital tradition of creativity.” He continues, “This is one of abstraction’s singular qualities, the form of enrichment and alteration of experience denied to the fixed mimesis of known things.” Furthermore, he adds, “… the development of abstraction in the last fifty years suggests … a tradition of invention and interpretation that has become exceptionally refined and intricate.”
“… painting in general and abstract painting in particular, rather than being exhausted by what has come before, can in fact be nurtured by the astonishing array of references now available. The potential sources of inspiration are myriad, perhaps unfathomable. The complexity, density, and diversity of art give ample reason to understand why abstract painting has not dried up or withered away.” Gary Garrels, Curator of the Hammer Museum.
In summation, perhaps artist Arshile Gorky said it most succinctly, “Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes…. Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind … an exploration into unknown areas.”
Gary A. Bibb was born in Wichita, Kansas and studied architecture at Kansas State University but discovered art to be more compelling. He received his BFA in Visual Art from Emporia State University (Kansas). Most of his artistic career has been lived in Colorado and Southern California. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado.