From the Catskill Mountains: BPAC Artist-in-Residence Entry May 25, 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Throughout her year as Burchfield artist-in-residence, Janelle Lynch will share her thoughts and impressions with us as we share her journey into the spirit and work of Charles Burchfield.


Revisiting Nancy's Ecstatic Light essay this morning I am struck again by her poetic scholarship. Charles E. Burchfield would feel honored.

Nancy's words about CEB's first composite painting, Two Ravines, 1934-1943, compelled me to finally return to my second Burchfield-inspired works from early 2007. I had been thinking about taking out the contact sheets since my last visit to the BPAC when I studied Solitude in the archives, another painting that CEB expanded. As Nancy wrote, "Many of Burchfield's greatest compositions were created using these methods for breathing new life into paintings started in an earlier period."

Could I extend my photographs?

The images under consideration are portraits of trees that I made in 2007 on my property in the Catskills. They followed the Akna series from 2006, which I was making when I discovered CEB's work:

After I finished Akna, I began exploring in my woods with my 8x10 camera. I made about twenty pictures over several months, then had to abandon the project when I moved to Spain.

To extend the 2007 photographs would mean adding other images, thereby creating a diptych or triptych. Looking at the pictures today, I realized that it wouldn't be possible. As much as they are portraits of trees, they reveal concerns related to family and relationships that I was investigating through photography six years ago that are no longer central to my life or practice today. I'm left to wonder, then, how CEB was able to return to earlier paintings and add to them? Was his work, after all, first and foremost about his relationship to the natural world and much less about states of mind expressed through depictions of nature? I have always thought they represented a combination of both elements. Or was his interest in expanding the paintings more about a better formal resolution of them, which enabled him to separate from the psychological framework of the original piece?

- Janelle Lynch


Janelle Lynch is the 2013 Burchfield resident artist. She has garnered international recognition over the last decade for her large-format photographs of the urban and rural landscape. Widely exhibited, her work is in several public and private collections including the Burchfield Penney, George Eastman House Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Newark Museum, the Fundación Vila Casas, Barcelona, and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Salta, Argentina.