Small Is the New Big at NAWA’s Latest Art Exhibit

Sandra Bertrand

 

For the National Association of Women Artists (NAWA), the "Small Works" exhibitions held in the summer and winter have become a treasured tradition among members and nonmembers alike. 

From July 10-August 21, 2019, the works on display at the NAWA Gallery in Manhattan prove that the size of an artwork does not have to determine its excellence or worth.  With a close study, viewers will find remarkable detail and precision at play in several mediums.  They will also find a surprising seriousness and boldness of intent often reserved for larger works.

The female form, so historically usurped as a subject by the male art establishment, is reinterpreted and in some instances reborn in this display. 

Kristina Kosse’s sculpture has the emotive power of a Valkyrie, riding the winds and daring us to follow.  A sleek standout in marble is Julie Conn’s Repose.  Her abstract female shape could easily compete alongside post-cubistic sculptures by Picasso and Fernando Botero.  Estelle Lippman’s bronze, April is a more traditional dance to spring, while Candace Lovely’s stylized painting of a modern-day aquatic Venus delights the eye as she seems to embrace the watery elements.

Transformation is key in Lucinda Abra’s Monarch painting, her chrysalis bursting from a golden shell into a full-blown human queen, her dress a pastiche of wings. The exquisite interplay of green, pink, and yellow patterns swirling around the Black empress in Rhonda Urdang’s collage dazzle the viewer.  To the artist’s credit, this overlay of prints never overwhelms, but enhances her subject.

The ability of a small artwork (maximum dimensions are 12” x 12”) to work to full effect, conveying its message through pure abstraction, is an arguable point.  Utilizing pastels, ink and graphite, Harriet Livathinos produces a filigree of spidery lines, so delicate her design could work beautifully on a surface no larger than a handkerchief.  Conversely, the contrasting strength of Katya Lebrija’s blue and tangerine shapes is evident and masterful, but the viewer can be excused for wanting a much larger canvas to bring this creation fully alive.

There are works that stand alone in their ability to bring pleasure to the eye.  Little explanation is needed for Anya Leveille’s Little Red Teacup. It’s sheer perfection in every detail.  Amalia Brujis’ Dancing Trees have a muted beauty in their overall composition that suggests the best of Asian-inspired landscape art. For the love of a canine, Louise Durocher gives us her abstract sculpture of Ginger in perfect angularity.

Celebrating 130 years of promoting awareness of, and interest in, the visual art of women in the United States, NAWA continues to support the best efforts from a membership comprised of over 800 members.  Many exhibits are planned for this year alone, and September’s Annual in New York City’s Tribeca locale that should draw much deserved attention to their talents.

This arresting exhibition proves that Tiffany’s, with their signature little blue box, is not the only place where treasures on a small scale can be found.

 

(NAWA Gallery, 315 West 39 Street, Suite 508, New York, NY  10018, 212-675-1616)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Bio:

Sandra Bertrand is Highbrow Magazine’s chief art critic.

 

For Highbrow Magazine

 

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