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Artist Finds ‘Harmony’ In Humanity And Nature

Published: June 19, 2018

“Golden Lady” is 60 inches tall and 36 inches wide. Made with acrylic paint and dried on a linen canvas, she is currently on view at Newtown Municipal Center as part of “Harmony,” a one-artist exhibition featuring works by Newtown resident Susan McLaughlin that opened on June 9.

According to preshow materials, Ms McLaughlin “is recognized for her hauntingly imaginative and energetic paintings depicting harmony between humanity and nature.”

Glancing at “Golden Lady” during the opening reception, Ms McLaughlin said, “Sometimes you can see [humanity and nature] separately, and sometimes it blends together. The blend is utopia.”

“Golden Lady” wears a white gown spread in a plume behind her, one foot raised to run as she looks back over her shoulder at geese in pursuit. Golden hair slightly mussed and her face serene, she runs down a lane lined with bare trees.

Nature and humanity are “equally important,” Ms McLaughlin said. “We’re all in this together.”

Walking down the municipal building’s main hall, she noted other works, where natural elements of trees, vines, and wildlife are intertwined with faces, village scenes, and small figures in various outfits.

“It mimics the old world,” Ms McLaughlin said of her art, which takes two months to complete because of details and layering. “Centuries upon centuries,” humanity and nature “finally blend and enhance one another,” she said.

Other images depict women rising from within a pupa, at once human and butterfly. “She is emerging,” she said, stopping at one painting.

Written in her artist’s statement, Ms McLaughlin says in part: “As a narrative painter, I am an explorer, uncovering, recording, and rearranging the beauty of the natural world as well as the beauty of human beings. A romantic at heart and surrealist of hand, I combine elements of reality and fantasy in ways that shed light on the interrelationships between humans and the natural world. Sometimes the division is clear.”

Her statement continues, “On other occasions, the two worlds melt into one. This symbiosis makes the finished work even more compelling than either of its constituents alone.”

Two dozen works, including paintings and ink and color pencil on paper, prints, specimens and poems, will remain on view through July 6. Most are available for purchase. “Harmony” can be viewed weekdays between 8 am and 4:30 pm; Newtown Municipal Center is at 3 Primrose Street, on the Fairfield Hills campus.


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