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Peeling back the layers

STRATA Artists reveal the appeal in the layers

STRATA artists explore the idea of layering through their use of materials, but also through the depth of meaning, complexity, and symbolism in their work.

I recently asked the Strata artists to elucidate about the appeal of layering in their work. Their responses follow.

STRATA Artist, Day Moore

Surfacing Series - Sunset by Day Moore

"The exhibition theme grabbed me immediately. In so many different aspects layering comes in to play in my art.

It is something that I’m ruminating on as I am filming underwater while looking up at the surface through columns of sea life, but also as I am trying to achieve density of color while I paint on layers.

I also think of the passage of time as layers and how those layers build upon each other to create where we are now and how quickly man has managed to overthrow nature. As I look to the surface I’m often struck by the reflections of nature and also of the elements above which signify, to me, the encroachment of man. Often in my work are reflected bits of plastic, distorted skyscrapers and even pink insulating wrap. The reflected underside of the sea appears beautiful, often serene and abstract while in reality it is merely a nanosecond of captured time and in-fact not abstraction."

Day Moore

STRATA Artist, Kim Marcucci

"Layering captures moments in time, emotions in time.

I was drawn to this call because it is how I paint. By layering colors, shapes, textures and line, I create a surface history that is rich.

“Land” was inspired by the struggle for land and water in the Navajo Nation."

Kim Marcucci

STRATA Artist, Anita Rama

Flower Flies by Anita Rama

“Our memories, the universe, the earth’s core, the atmosphere, even our existence on the surface of this planet, everything feels layered. A line of thick trees, the light shining through them, the layers of grass, the whistling wind and hum of the bees, all appear in layers in my mind’s eye. What if the flowers suddenly possess wings and start flying? The small flowers, the large flowers, the petals, some clear and closer, some farther away fading, just like our memories some strong and some fading. I call these flowers in layers “Flower Flies.” They fly just like my fleeting emotions and thoughts.”

Anita Rama

Leaning into the beat by Jack Straton

STRATA Artist, Jack Straton

"Within this great ape lies a personality, who refers to himself as "Jack," and beneath the socialized person is a more authentic core, an expression of the creative impulse. Yet as "I" walk through the world photographing and some element calls out to "me," I become aware that there is some part of "myself" in the object seen. Or perhaps it is this newly-revealed part of "the world" that I sense within "myself." When tuned in to this extent, the nature of existence becomes more diaphanous. Neither the ape, nor socialized Jack, nor authentic self is radically separate from the world through which the ape moves, and that world moves around, past, and through the ape. World and self co-create each other instant by instant and for all eternity."

Jack Straton

STRATA Artist, Liz Thoresen

“ The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness”

John Muir

Woodland Refuge by Liz Thoresen

In thinking about this blog post, I discovered a term that was new to me:

“Forest Bathing”. The actual term is shinrin-yoku, created by the

Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in 1982. There is

no bathing required, just encouraging people to spend time in nature as a

way to de-stress and increase one’s well-being and happiness.

The goal is to live in the present moment while immersing your senses in the sights and sounds of a natural setting. It is a simple way to manage stress and avoid the toll stress can make on one’s health.

That intention is an integral part of my art practice. During the painting

process, I live in the present moment breathing in a relaxed state of mind

while I distance myself from everyday matters. These moments in my

studio all lead to discovery and wonder of how the medium and materials

work together to create the end result. It is the revelation involved in each

step that makes me see things with new eyes and leads to an increased

feeling of well-being.

Nature is a continual inspiration for my art and I realize I have been

practicing “Forest Bathing” all along. Living in the country is a privilege for

which I am daily thankful. Spending time in the garden, sitting with the

trees, driving on roads lined by forests, seeking out green spaces, and

making a connection to nature a priority, inspires and brings me peace.

“Woodland Refuge” is multilayered with elements of the understory or the

floor of the forest. It invites the viewer in to a lush world of the underlying

vegetation and plant details that exist quietly under the dominance of the

trees. I hope that the onlooker finds a sense of peace by a short escape

into my painting."

Liz Thoresen

STRATA Artist, Rhiannon Robinson

Fossils by Rhiannon Robinson

“My work always begins with language, a piece of writing which inspires me to interpret its meaning through print and embroidery. I took the text for this piece, about how fossils form in rock strata, from ‘A Land’ by Jacquetta Hawkes, first published in 1951. A very personal and elegiac piece of writing, the book charted 4 billion years of Earth history, through geology, archaeology and cosmology, becoming a bestseller and one of the defining British non-fiction books of the postwar decade. Sixty years on, it’s still a classic in the literature of nature and landscape.”

Rhiannon Robinson

STRATA Artist, Ron Conrad

Past Present Future by Ron Conrad

"Our personal perception of layered time flying by while we look forward to vague bits of future possibilities and backwards to a fragmented past is our most intimate experience."

Ron Conrad

STRATA Artist, Bob Conge

"From childhood I have wondered about space / time in how everything seemed to

Algorithm Of The Day by Bob Conge

exist in yesterday, today and tomorrow and how tomorrow always became today and today always became yesterday. Very difficult stuff to contemplate until a few years ago when I came across Einstein’s visualization of space / time as a loaf of sliced bread with the Big Bang as the first slice on the left and outer limit of the expanding universe as the last slice on the right.

Somewhere in the middle is a slice we call now and all the slices to the left of now are in the past and the slices to the right are in the future. This comes with the realization the everything in the past still exists and everything in the future already exists, talk about strata.

The reality of this still eluded me until one morning a couple of years ago when upon waking I was sitting on the edge of my bed and looking at the oak dresser in front of me that had been there for 27 years and realized it would most likely be there tomorrow. This would require that the dresser and everything else in the universe is already there in the future now.

Epiphany ! The future has already happened."

STRATA Artist, Candace Pratt

"'NATIVE GRASSES - In Harmony with Fire' is a sculptural flame-vessel illuminating the historical significance of indigenous conservation practices worldwide. These sacred cultural burnings were beneficial to the land and to the health of the population. It is the story of the annual spring growth of the emerald-green grass, the summer drying, and the ceremonial burning allowing the cycle to repeat anew."

Candace Pratt

Native Grasses - In Harmony with Fire by Candace Pratt

STRATA Artist, Dianne Jean Erickson

"Many of my “Stacked” pieces are painted over previous paintings, they already have a wonderful history. Each piece is a buildup of many layers of paint as I work to finalize line widths and colors. The “Strata” builds with every application, and reveals itself when scraping back through the many layers. I am fascinated with the interplay of color and shape, and how even a subtle change in color or the width of a line can make such a difference. I also look for opportunities to let previous color show through, just enough to surprise the viewer when giving the piece a closer look."

Dianne Jean Erickson


Nesting by Earl Grenville Killeen

"In Nature, as in the human psyche, layering is the result of accretion and erosion. In my art work, accretion is achieved by applying successive coats of paint, often of contrasting hues, using a stencil brush as well as an assortment of traditional watercolor brushes. Erosion, in my layering process, is rendered by a small power-sander, or damp crinkled tissue, or liquid frisket used as a paint remover, or wet beach sand that’s scraped off once it’s dry. The vagaries inherent in these wearing-away techniques, as in the weathering effects of nature and life, produce a surface perforated with glimpses of what’s underneath.

So even in an image with a shallow “depth of field”, which characterizes most of my paintings, the surface itself suggests hidden or hinted-at dimensions."


STRATA Artist, Mark Weller

“I view reality through the kaleidoscope of time… one second effects the next, effects the next, and so on; which accumulates as the strata of moments. To capture that in art is to capture a more honest and truthful presence. Photographing a landscape over four or five minutes accentuates the pure essence of what we see. And how we see things fundamentally influences our perception of our surroundings, our attitudes, our understanding of who we are and how we fit into the cosmos.”

Mark Weller

Storm at Wilke Prairie Preserve by Mark Weller

STRATA Artist, Malcolm Glass

Bodyscape I by Malcolm Glass

"I am a traditionalist. Although I sometimes use a digital camera, I prefer film.

But for some images, a minimal use of digital processes can help me create an

image with new perceptions and implications. In all of my artwork, and in my writing, I trust the process of discovery and surprise. I stay open to happy accidents and allow the tools and materials to lead me to something new and unique. So it was with “Bodyscape,” the photograph in this exhibition. The image of the torso was originally captured on film and the negative was scanned. In Photoshop I played with the image, trying various ways of altering the presentation while keeping the image basically unchanged.

On a whim, I picked up a letter-size piece of stationery that depicted a map and

wondered how it would look as a background. I enlarged the map to the size of the

torso image (13” x 18”) and printed it. I did not use layers for the final image. For some reason I decided to overprint the figure on the enlarged map. The placement and alignment of the two images was pure chance."

Malcolm Glass

“When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt." Henry J. Kaiser / Gamble Rogers

Shared by STRATA Artist, Malcolm Glass

STRATA Artist, Linda Trytek

Lines In The Sand by Linda Trytek

"I came upon this fence which is meant to prevent sand erosion. The layers of sand that make up the dunes are literally “on the move” marching to new formations and locations. The fence itself was layers of sun and shadow. This photo was originally in color, but when I removed the layers of color a much more dramatic image presented itself. Life is many layers of meaning. What you see on the surface of things and people is not what lies at their core. Examining each layer in detail enables us to witness truth."

Linda Trytek

STRATA Artist, Ray Lee

Horizon i by Ray Lee

"My drawing is from a series titled “Horizon” that I completed in 2021. The series is an exploration of visual boundaries or layering, e.g., above/below, perceptible/imperceptible, open/closed. The drawing presents the effect of perceiving layers that discloses a viewer’s sense of being in the world."

Ray Lee

STRATA Artist, Beth Kerschen

Sometimes Always Walls by Beth Kerschen

"Sometimes Always Walls,is a photomontage inspired by my street photography of urban textures and murals. In these changing times, the facades we think we know are constantly changing. I explore the multitude of facades I created with layer over and over and top of themselves…hiding my true self to protect myself from being corrected, wronged, shut down, and rejected. If the layers of walls are pretty and unique enough, it can create a wonderful identity, but it is still a false facade."

Beth Kerschen

STRATA Artist, Hilary Sheehan

"I build dense surfaces in my compositions using multiple layers of drawing, paint, and collage. I like to use a variety of lines, materials and shapes in each layer. As I proceed to build up in layers, parts of the earlier layers will be submerged or partially obscured. Each layer adds depth and texture to the piece as the colors and shapes evolve layer by layer. I work slowly, sometimes with pauses of days or weeks between layers. With every layer of the piece, I am trying to make an interesting composition, even if aspects of that layer will eventually be partially covered up.

“Drywall Tape Remix” started out with a variety of acrylic paint strokes in purple, green and orange on gesso board. I then collaged on some rice paper that had a lot of textures on it. The next step was the drywall tape, which adds texture and pattern. Next I added two small ink drawings on yupo paper, and some thread. At this point the piece looked like this:

I then taped over some areas to preserve them, and covered the entire pieces with oil paint and cold wax. I then removed the tape and covered the whole piece with a final layer of cold wax.

The final piece has the original colors, textures and shapes present and yet partially buried and muted by the subsequent layers."

Hilary Sheehan

Drywall Tape Remix by Hilary Sheehan

STRATA Artist Mario Cerroni

Self portrait (in limbo) by Mario Cerroni

"I was drawn to this call as the topic of strata is an integral part of my creation. There are so many layers involved in my work. Some are physical, i.e. negatives layered on top of other negatives, objects in photos layered over other objects, chemical processes applied in a series of layers, and of course some include digital layers. There are also many layers to my journey as a person as well as an artist. Layers of age piling on top of each other quicker than I would like to accept; layers of emotion that lead to spiritual dilemmas; layers of health issues (heart issues, some depression issues while struggling with the health issues), facing my declining body and how it affects my world view. These are all layers of existence that are prevalent at this point in my life. Additionally there are layers to my art practice - a combination of analog, digital and alternative processes."

Mario Cerroni

STRATA Artists, Emil Yanos

"My work typically involves layers and layers of color. I would start off with an underglaze base color. The piece is fired to lock the color onto the piece. I would then add a dark hue in the recesses and lighter hues to add highlights. Then go back and forth between light and dark until I reach something that speaks to me. Any of my pieces would have been perfect for this call. However, I’ve always been intrigued with the stratification that occurs when a hill or mountain is carved away to accommodate building a roadway. The different layers of earth have different colors and often different textures. My observations have been captured in my latest work, which doesn’t employ the same technique I’ve described. I’ve created tiles reminiscent of stratification using strips of clay standing on end. I use clay in different degrees of dryness because they react differently when stretched and manipulated and they also absorb underglaze differently, creating the desired effect. Being accepted for this call was specifically rewarding because it verifies my vision."

Emil Yanos

STRATA Artist, Bill Saltzstein

by Bill Saltzstein

"The way that the light flows through the layers and folds in slot canyons has enchanted me, and tempted me with the challenge of capturing the ever-changing images. The native peoples of this land too recognized the beauty and were in awe of these formations, leaving their marks etched in the layers of stone and time."

Bill Saltzstein

Slots and Layers by Bill Saltzstein

STRATA Artist, Kristi Ekern

Eye of the Storm by Kristi Ekern

"The first art-related photos I ever took were after a huge storm had swirled the sand of the dunes into magnificent color patterns. My family was hiking and I lagged way behind because I just couldn’t stop seeing and taking pictures of the patterns formed by the layers of sand. Eye of the Storm is just one from a large collection. Since then, I notice many other patterns formed by layers in nature. One of my favorite times of year is when the pollen from the mountain pines is thick. It swirls and gets caught in beautiful designs in slow moving river currents. Combine that with a reflection on the top of the water and you get magical scenes like Western Skies.

Western Skies by Kristi Ekern

Western Skies is also just one of a large collection. I wish there was a great method I could say I follow, but really, Mother Nature does the hard work. I only capture it with whatever camera I have handy. I feel lucky to see the magic she puts in my path."

Kristi Ekern

STRATA Artist, Mary Coleman

Atlas colorié de Spedalskhed by Mary Coleman

The following quote hangs on Mary's studio wall..

“Fuck motivation. It’s fickle and unreliable.

Better to cultivate discipline than to rely on motivation. Force yourself to do things. Force yourself to work.

Motivation is fleeting and it’s easy to rely on because it requires no concentrated effort to get. Motivation comes to you, you don’t have to chase after it.

Discipline is reliable, motivation is fleeting. The question isn’t how to keep yourself motivated, it’s how to train yourself to work without it.”



As Above, So Below by Leona Gamble

"As Above, So Below" explores the microlayers of our inner worlds reflected in the macro of the environment with the larger patterns of the world around us. The universe is vast, and infinite in its spaces, as are the cellular structures within us, and even more unfathomable are the depths of the inner psyche and the untold layers that each of us holds within us. What appears simple and straightforward upon looking at more closely, we begin to see the weavings and connected paths, the criss-crossing textures, and the rhythms that tie the micro to the familiar landscapes that we live surrounded by. “As Above, so Below” is the weaving of the vastness around us, and then within us. To factor in the vast unmeasurable realms of the human mind and our emotions; infinite layers are opened up further. The paths of the rain drops are carved into the wet paint, as are some of the grasses that intermingle at the level of her throat and heart. She stands calm and grounded, bathed in bright light as a dark storm descends around and behind her; bringing life-giving rain. Bones lay strewn among the wild grasses around her their shapes reflected in the woven fabric around her head, as she holds a vertebrae and wildflower to her heart, another segment of a skull hangs suspended; a lightning rod and a regal crown. She is enshrouded by a loosely woven fabric that appears to have a silver metallic glean to it. The light behind her hints at Edwardian lace at her throat. She stands holding life and death both symbolically and literally, both inward and outward."

Leona Gamble


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