Thursday, August 16, 2012

Artist Spotlight - Alicia Hunsicker

As I contemplated writing this piece, I asked myself how in the world I could ever do this brilliant, gifted and profound artist justice, when the words so often fail me in expression through writing.  Having said that, there is no escaping the strong feelings I have about sharing Alicia Hunsicker's work with as many people as I can.

Alicia lives in Leyden, Massachusetts, a small hill town that has largely escaped commercialization. The centers of activity are the elementary school, a church and a town hall. There is not even a corner store to buy milk! What it does have are beautiful views, grassy fields and several small farms. Western Massachusetts rural beauty at its finest.

When I visited her home for the open studio event and fundraiser sale, I was, as always, received with a warm calmness by Alicia. When she begins to discuss her work, she is transformed and one sees clearly that she is passionate about life, senses her place in the universe but also asks a lot of questions about it, constantly searching for ways to express her questions and evaluate her understanding.

It's no wonder that the rural beauty of Alicia's surroundings have impacted so greatly on her work. The paintings reveal a deep reverence for nature and how it intersects with art, science, the spirit and the human body. One gets the feeling upon exploring many of Alicias' works, that they are somehow familiar; that there are threads there that one could explore over and over again and experience a feeling of connection to forces that are beyond one's intellectual understanding perhaps, but that one can experience on a spiritual and unconscious level. I feel about Alicia's work as I sometimes do about a certain type of poem; one that has many complex layers of meaning and yet touches a core feeling that we humans are a part of something really huge and magnificent. It's a comforting feeling, to realize that each of us is just a tiny dot on a massively huge universal canvas. We are so preoccupied with ourselves and our problems, that to feel that connection, however fleeting, and to see it expressed through art, reminds us that we are not so important in and of ourselves, but a part of a vast wholeness. It is humbling to view human life through this perspective.

From Mind to Matter

Recently, Alicia was interviewed by Superconsciousness Magazine and described her work and her process, as well as what inspires her. Her own words express much better than I what she has in mind when she creates. Here is an excerpt from the article:

SuperConsciousness: What inspired you to merge art with science and what are the benefits that you perceive from it?
Mana Force, 28” x 51”, oil on board, Alicia Hunsicker, 2011
Alicia Hunsicker: I received a wonderful amount of feedback when I unveiled my latest series of work, entitled “Moments of Creation”. This series evolved from the idea of expressing the moment in time where thought or energy transforms into form or matter. Many people resonated with this work and pointed out a strongly perceived scientific connection. Some even called the compositions biological landscapes.
I have always thought of myself as a spiritual artist, but as I started to view my work through a more scientific lens, I began to experience more expansion in what was possible through my art. I was amazed at the similarities between the questions I was asking through my art in the studio and the questions scientists were researching in their facilities.
This new alignment allowed me to see doors that I could not see before, and now, excitedly, I am starting to open them and explore what is inside.

Spring Birches

Alicia has had an impressive resume. Her work has been exhibited internationally and she has won a number of awards, grants and residencies.  Her work appears in a number of private collections as well.

In 2008, she traveled to China to work with the Zendai Museum of Modern Art. Alicia contributed to collaborative projects in the museum program "Interlude: Art and Life 366". Another project of the museum called "We Are Having Weather" included Alicia's photography work. Both projects have been added to the museum's permanent collection. Other notable artists in this program included Yoko Ono and Ai Weisel.

A recent solo exhibition (which I attended) at Gallery in the Woods, a prestigious New England gallery, featured several canvases of recent works called "Moments of Creation".

Alicia received a lot of feedback when these works were unveiled. The ideas for the paintings evolved from the idea expressing "the moment in time where thought or energy transforms into form or matter". Many people who resonated with this work referred to it as a series of "biological landscapes".

To see more of Alicia's projects and exhibitions visit her blog .

"It was a poignant realization that the concepts I explore in my work are closely related to ones that many scientists are exploring in their research."  


Most recently, Alicia was invited by the D. Feiss East West Foundation to participate in a residency and Symposia of Contemporary Art in Mallnitz, Austria. In order to participate, she created an online Kickstart fundraising campaign called Boundless:  An Artist Residency and Journey to Cern. In addition to the residency she will be fulfilling a career dream by traveling to Cern - The European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland. Specifically in regards to Cern, her current interests are in the Large Hadron Collider and the Higgs Boson particles and images of particle collisions.

Alicia is currently fundraising to help pay for her journey to Austria. For the love of art, humanity and science, please consider making a contribution. However modest, every bit helps. You will be rewarded with a gift of Alicia Hunsicker art as well as the feeling that you're involved in something really big and exciting.
Boundless Artist Residency and Visit to Cern.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eleven Random Facts

My blog friend Joe Spado of  Round Circle, bestowed upon The Pagan Sphinx this blog award:

I haven't participated in one of these in a couple of years but not only did come from someone I have known and liked in the blogosphere, but I also thought it would be a good way to connect with other people I like, with whom I have had little contact recently.

Yes, I have been largely absent from the blogging universe. I'm not quite ready (perhaps I will never be) to give it up entirely but because of the massive amount of work and energy that I feel I need to put into every post, I'm simply finding it too strenuous right now.

All is well. I returned at the end of July from Portugal, where I spend three weeks with my mother. I'm afraid that other than family photos, I didn't do any sightseeing of new places. My mother and I spent three days in Lisbon with my cousins who live there. My mother has a lot of energy left in her but to drag her on a walking tour of Lisbon would have been exhausting; especially in the hot Lisbon sun. Instead, we took a tourist bus around the city, making it very difficult to take great photos.

I will share one photo with you, of Consolação Beach where, as a very young child, my family spent several weeks in the summer. The tradition of going there continued through the many summer visits my daughters and I made from the United States to my parents' summer rental at  Consolação.  Since my father died in 2005 and my mother has aged, we've only visited for the great views and a cup of espresso at the cafe.  

A bit of an update about my daughters. Ursula continues to like her job at Boston University and has become a Bostonian at heart. Western Massachusetts has its own very distinct character from Boston and having grown up in "the sticks" as we say, isn't everyone's cup of tea. Personally I wouldn't trade the groovy Happy Valley for any other place in the U.S. but I have to admit that even though I live in a five-college community, Boston is much more of a happenin' place; especially for the young. 

Meredith has returned to Massachusetts from living for three years in Santa Barbara, California. She and her wife Shannon are not the Santa Barbara (often referred to as the American Riviera) types but lived just outside of that city so that Shannon could attend graduate school. She is working on the dissertation portion of her phd now, which allows Meredith now to return to university for a graduate degree.  She'll be attending Boston University in September and living a ten minute walk from her sister.  Shannon will be writing her dissertation and doing a stint as a visiting scholar at Northeastern University in Boston. How my children are managing their academic and work lives so well, on such limited budgets,is beyond me but I am very proud of them.

Shannon is actually not due to arrive in Boston until mid-September and meanwhile Meredith is here, with me for the month of August. It gives me so much pleasure to spend time with her and her sweet little dog every day for such a long stretch. I feel lucky. I really do. 

(apologies for the horrid white background of the text. I know there is a way to fix, as it's a known issue on blogger, but it's more complicated than I can take the time for right.)

Meredith will be 25 later this month! Wow!

(Taken on July 1, my birthday. It was really hot so we took the boat out on the Connecticut River, went swimming and had a picnic:  a perfect summer birthday.)

And now for the award:

Taken right from the blog announcement verbatim:

here are the rules to receiving this blog recognition award.   

1. Post 11 random facts about yourself

2. Choose 11 deserving other bloggers

3. Let them know they have been chosen

4. Answer the 11 questions the nominator has asked

5. Now give 11 questions to the ones you have chosen. 


I will, as usual, break the rules and not tag anyone in particular for this activity. If you'd like to participate, please do! Since I won't be providing you with questions to answer...well...I'm not sure about that part! 

Thanks, Joe. I enjoyed this opportunity to keep in touch and I appreciate that you thought of me and The Pagan Sphinx blog!

Peace and love,

Eleven Random Facts About Me

1.  Portuguese was my first language and I also spoke French as a child for two years, before immigrating to the United States in 1967.

2.  My great-grandmother, Virginia Duarte, was the mother of twelve children.I have slightly over fifty second cousins, most of whom live in Portugal. A couple of them have immigrated to other countries in Europe.

3. I am an introvert.

4.  I named one of my daughters Ursula because when I was carrying her, I was reading one of Ursula K. LeGuin's novels and I liked the way the name looked in print.

5. I won a third grade spelling bee by spelling the word "vacuum".

6. I have freckles.

7.  A couple of years ago, a photograph of mine was chosen as the cover of an engineering trade publication. My fifteen minutes of fame!

8.  The first book I ever read entirely by myself was Puss in Boots, in French.

9. In my more recent blogging life, I have eschewed these types of memes but I really like and respect Joe Spadoman, and I enjoyed his list, which is infinitely more interesting than mine!

10.  My most treasured possessions as a child of about nine were a portable record player and a case full of 45's. A passion for rock and roll and popular music has accompanied me in life since. The first 45 rpm record I purchased for myself (I played a lot of my older brother's records, much to his consternation) was Let it Be. When was that...1969?

11. The first concert I attended with my friends and without adult supervision was The Eagles and Dan Fogelberg, when the former toured for their album One of These Nights, in 1976 I think it was.

1.) What would you say or ask if you had the opportunity to have a conversation with Jesus Christ?

It would depend entirely upon what direction the conversation took. From all accounts, Jesus was an intense dude, so I would try very hard not to offend him by suggesting in any way that his idea that he was the son of God was a lot of delusion.

2.) What is your all time favorite song? (one only!)

Penny Lane - The Beatles

3.) Drive, Fly, Bus or Train?

The most relaxing and romantic is rail travel; especially in Europe.

4.) What is your favorite breakfast cereal? (If you don’t ever eat cereal, what is your favorite breakfast?)

Pastry and black coffee

5.) Coffee, tea, or something else in the morning?

Strong black coffee.

6.) When waking up, do you get out of bed from the left or right side of the bed?

Why, does my answer reflect something in particular about me?  ;-) Okay, left.

7.) If you could have any vehicle in the world, what would it be? (one only!)

I don't think about things like that.

8.) What is the last song you sang in the shower?

I don't sing in the shower, I sing when I'm alone in my car. The last song I sang  along with on the car radio was Box of Rain by The Grateful Dead.

9.) Do you color your hair?
Obviously not.

10.) Do you consider yourself a good cook?

Yes, when I'm not rushed, I love to cook.

11.) Describe in one word, and one word only, your greatest virtue.


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