Hart James SWJ 2020

Artist image

Artist Bio

Growing up on a farm, Hart absorbed the natural world around her small child, self. A backpack filled with empty jars, Golden Guide Books on Insects, Plants and Birds, she spent the daylight hours studying the beauty, the transience, the processes and cycles, the details of construction in nature.

Hart has come to realize that very few people have her background. In her early years on the farm, she spent all the daylight hours in nature. She wandered the family farm and all of the adjoining farms of the neighbors. It was more than 1500 acres of countryside and farmland. In these surroundings, she became attuned to the natural world in a way that seems more connected to earlier societies, than with our present day world. She intuited natural processes that are just now being ‘discovered’ by modern scientists. Hart understood the infinity of space, the insignificance of man, the transient nature of life, and the omnipotent power of the life force of nature. This was at the age of ten.

After spending her young adult life absorbed with nature and art (museums, printmaking, and mixed media), Hart pursued a career in landscape design and installation. She approached this as an art form. Transforming spaces by moving large amounts of soil, large boulders to hold in river banks, adding dry laid stone paths and walls, or brick, building structures for the garden (breezeways, pergola, gates, etc), and planting 25’ trees down to the smallest of perennials. The boxwoods became Noguchi sculpture, the layering of plants juxtaposed with the man made elements became a painting framed by views from the windows.

It is with this knowledge that Hart paints. Using oil, and often charcoal, Every painting is an attempt to reunite with an existence symbiotic with the natural world. Her paintings are abstract landscapes.

Studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Art Institute, with Anne Truitt, Vera Berdich, and, Ed Pashcke, among others, and studying at Northwestern in art history and biology has made a strong background for Hart’s devotion to the arts. She has attended artist residencies across the country, Oxbow, Morris Graves Foundation, and Seaside. In 2017, Hart was awarded a fellowship to attend Vermont Studio Residency.


Artist Statement

Life is a layering of existences. Each layer is imbued with intense energy. My work speaks of this energy and these layers; the current of the water, the flow of the air, the rock formations that form the foundation under our feet and the movement of those foundations, the layers of time in each form.

The natural world is very simply alive and very complex. It is as much a part of us as our circulatory system. This fact is nothing to be taken for granted.

In my work, I work to achieve an immediacy, a spontaneity, that is akin to the Zen painting of China and Japan.
Muqi’s Monkey, 1200s, Sung Dynasty, has impressed me since I was a child. I could feel that monkey. I knew that monkey. This is my approach to my own painting.

The energy of the Zen brush stroke influenced the arts in America, the Abstract Expressionists of NYC, and the Northwest School of Art.
Morris Graves’ ‘Bird Singing in the Moonlight,’ 1939
, captures the joy of song of a bird, the union with the greater, the mystery of the natural world in which we live.

This is power expressed in art.

A poster of Qian Xuan’s, ‘Early Autumn,’ hung by my bed from high school, through college, on into early adult years. When, I stayed in Morris Graves’ home and studio during a residency there, I felt the connection, as he had the same poster laid out in reflection, in honor.

I use the palette knife and rag in a similar fashion as the Zen painters. Centering myself to the image and to the act of making, I strive to take clean, strong sweeps to capture the essence of the image in nature, to connect with that energy, and to have it flow from artist, to canvas, to viewer.

Other artistic influences are Marsden Hartley, Hurvin Anderson, David T. Alexander, Jennifer Bartlett, BonnardDiebenkorn, Markus Lupertz, Marlene Dumas, and Jennifer Pochinski.