Beth Huhtala and Yvonne Welman were selected for the Manhattan Arts International “Hot Topics ~ Bold Expressions” in Nature and Human Nature exhibition. Their art received Awards of Merit in this exhibition co-curated by me and James Bacchi, co-owner of ArtHaus gallery, San Francisco, CA. The exhibition ran from August 17 through October 17, 2015 on the Manhattan Arts website. In different styles and mediums both artists use symbols and metaphors to communicate their concerns about important social issues. That’s why I chose them to also receive The Healing Power of ART Featured Artists Awards.
Beth Huhtala Uses Familiar Story Animal Icons
Beth Huhtala is a versatile and prolific artist who explores profound and universal topics in large-scale gestural charcoal drawings, printmaking, painting, and ceramic sculpture. Her compelling mixed media work titled “Mama Said Don’t Let Strangers In” won the award in “Hot Topics ~ Bold Expressions”.
As the artist states, “In my work I use familiar story animal icons to tell more fully dissected human experiences rather than ones based on a desire to easily categorize themselves and others. These are dangerous and flat binary identifiers we cote ourselves with that I fear, prevents us from connecting with one another.”
The artist further explains her vision and ideas that inspire her meaningful and animated works of art. “The core ideas behind my work investigate the natural and universal human urge to create stories and mythologies that make up or perpetuate our personal morality. I use the traditional characters and icons from these mythologies to re-direct, investigate, and question our human engagement with one another and how we can shift focus from generalized moral categories to more complex and complete understandings of our nature.”
Beth also states her concern: “People have learned that we may only be one of two things, good or bad. Special or ordinary; interesting, or boring. This is a dangerous identifier we coat ourselves with that prevents us from honestly connecting with one another.”
More about her work: “I negotiate a new and more challenging narrative using my own experiences with others as reference for contemporary interactions to oppose the current understanding of what is good or bad, and how we performed one or the other in all our interactions.”
To learn more about Beth Huhtala visit her website www.bethhuhtala.com
Yvonne Welman Explores Women’s Equality
Yvonne Welman is a highly accomplished artist who was born one year after World War II in the Netherlands in a small town in Noord, Holland. She studied at the Academy of Arts and received her masters in arts and art history. Later on, to hone her skills as a painter, she took lessons in 17th century oil painting techniques.
She explains, “I am a teacher and a painter and it gives my life meaning to tell visual stories about my experiences and ideas. My themes are social issues and often equality issues — especially women’s equality. My motto is: ‘Non cogito quod cogitas’ and that’s why I want to share my interpretation of the idea in the painting and I see any other interpretation of my work is just as valid. I want my paintings not only to be emotional engaging but also require activities of the mind.”
When Yvonne submitted her art entries to the “Hot Topics ~ Bold Expressions” exhibition she provided this statement: “Gender equality is my hot topic. I was raised to be a good homemaker and to be self supporting, which was not very usual in those days. So I earned the right to paint about this topic because I felt the discrimination all my life and I still see it around me.”
I selected Yvonne’s painting “My Parents’ Daughter and Hyper Cube” for the exhibition and to win an Award of Merit because of its powerful and truthful statement that resonates throughout cultures worldwide. Unfortunately, women’s equality is still a “Hot Topics” issue that needs to be brought to light through art.
Yvonne has won many awards including being nominated for the “Schilderijvanhetjaar” painting contest, Awards from Light Space & Time; and a Certificate of Excellence from Palm-Art-Award, in Germany; and more. She has exhibited her art at the Town Hall of Schoonhoven for one year, Exposition for two years at the Genderinstitute of the University at Maastricht; among others.
To learn more about Yvonne Welman visit her website at http://www.welmanyja.seesle.com
If you would like to learn more about Manhattan Arts International’s online exhibitions please visit the Calls for Artists.