“Creating art is self-affirming, life-affirming,” says Margery Gosnell-Qua when discussing this week’s cover art, ‘Salt Marsh 2.’ What could be more important?”
What was the inspiration for this piece?
I began this series by painting watercolors in the salt marshes in Quogue in 2013. I’ve been captivated by salt marshes from years of working as a naturalist and I see salt marshes as a safe haven for me, as well as for nature’s creatures that grow in their endless food supply. With this backdrop in mind, I sat among the phragmites and painted a series of watercolors. At the same time, I was reading Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. I became enmeshed in his story, and found myself telling his story to friends. Although unintentional, I see his influence in this work. So, I thank Van Gogh for his influence.
Your bio states that you “work between representation and abstraction, uncovering visual equivalents to sensing.” Can you expand on that?
Sure. Why do people paint abstractly when they can draw what they see? Because our experience of the world is comprised of other senses besides sight. If I can paint what I see, can I paint what I hear? Can I paint the sounds of birds or the sound of splashing water, the smell of salt, the temperature of the air, the touch of the wind? When one can paint what one sees, painting what one senses becomes a wonderful challenge. You could say that one paints abstractly to import non-visual sensations into a visual medium such as painting, or in other words, to create visual equivalents to sensing.
What is it that draws you to water, which is a motif in your work, as a subject?
Much of my experience from an early age has been by the water, so it’s in my subconscious. We who have grown up near the ocean take for granted how much we know about it on both a cognitive and sensory level. It has taught me about balance, weightlessness, buoyancy, force and temperature—all of which are felt in my sense of gravity and of touch rather than sight. So painting water lends itself to abstraction. Additionally, I love reflection, which creates the illusion of space on a surface; there’s also the play of light and motion which is endless.
What are you most looking forward to in terms of summer on the East End?
To seeing friends and kindred spirits who have been away for the winter, especially my boys who have been studying in New Zealand and South Africa; to swimming in the ocean, and enjoying our sea life.
Where’s the most unusual place your work has appeared?
When my boys where in sixth grade, I managed the stage design for Aladdin at their school, and we created a huge collage of the Taj Mahal for the stage backdrop. It was glorious.
If you could sit down to coffee with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I wrote my Art History thesis on Paul Klee’s theories of 2-D design. I’d like to thank him and tell him about what I learned, and I’m sure he could tell me more. I’d like to talk to Matisse. I read Hillary Spurling’s two-volume biography on him. He was so courageous, living through two world wars and continuing his work no matter what painful situations he endured. He was always able to find his expression. He’s a huge inspiration. I’m sure we’d find something to talk about.
Where can we see more of your work?
On May 19, “Salt Marsh 2” and some new works from the Salt Marsh Series will be on view at The Quogue Gallery’s front gallery space during the reception for Tommy May’s exhibit Mosaics and Machine. July 5–8 my work will be on view at Art Market Hamptons in Bridgehampton. Fitzgerald Gallery (48 Main Street, Westhampton Beach) exhibits my work on an ongoing basis.
To see more of Gosnell’s work visit gosnellquastudios.com.