Evelyn Rumsey Lord (1877-1963), Still Life, c. 1938; oil on canvas board, 24 x 30 inches; Gift of John and Carol Kociela, 2010
Color, light, movement: they are the foundations of our visual perception and in this painting you can find highly emotive and descriptive forms of these elements. Soft light illuminates abstract forms, imbuing them with a buoyancy and movement, while rich pastel colors create a complex, yet calming image. Evelyn Rumsey Lord is credited with bringing modernist and abstract ideas about art to Buffalo, and here you can clearly see these influences. As a member of the Patteran Society, she rejected the idea that painting must only be realistic, which was advocated by ultra-conservatives as “Sanity in Art.” Her refusal resulted in works such as this one, where emotion is the focus, more than the subject.
How do you see something? Many people might say that we see objects with our eyes, but you can also “see” objects with your memories and emotions. Sometimes you may perceive the world differently than everyone else. Evelyn Rumsey Lord was one of these people. She saw the world in an abstract and colorful way, full of light and movement. In this painting, she shows that art doesn’t need to be realistic in order to illustrate what is seen. Have you ever painted something that doesn’t look realistic?
—Deirdre B. Reynolds, 2015