WE ARE WHAT THE SEAS HAVE MADE US

Curated by Catherine Haggarty

Yevgeniya Baras
Alan Prazniak
Daniel John Gadd
Dana James

These four New York based painters came to mind after reading Lake Superior, a collection of poems and short essays by Lorine Niedecker. Lorine’s book was inspired by a journey through the midwest and her view of the American landscape through the passenger window of her car. Her journey through nature and description of both its beauty and decay in writing is unmatched.

Lake Superior paints a picture of a landscape I’ve never seen, but it is one to which I feel deeply indebted and close. The connection we have to the Earth we share through time and place is ineffable. These artists paint those pictures, the kind of pictures Niedecker so beautifully describes with words.

Each artist’s work operates independently as pure abstraction. However different their departure points may be respectively, their paintings all wind up hovering between idyllic and conjured landscapes. Each of these four manipulate surface and material to satisfy their story and create their world through paint. They invite us into their imagined landscape in a humble and alluring way. They tempt us with water, skating the surface or peering into the forest. Their paintings ask of us, rather than demand, that we decide where we are on our own terms.
“Be still,” I hear the paintings say, as I walk past both the undulating and sensitively smooth surfaces they make. Water drips and bushes rustle through the passing of Dana James and Alan Prazniak’s work. Under the moon, Daniel John Gaad gives me light while I hear the stories Yevgeniya Baras tells me with her paintings… of mountains and dreams.

The Journey of the rock is never ended. In every tiny part of any living thing
are materials that once were rock and turned to soil. These minerals are drawn
out of the soil by plant roots and the plant used them to build leaves, stems,
flowers, and fruits.

Plants are eaten by animals. In our blood is iron from plants that draw it out
of the soil. Your teeth and bones were once coral. The water you drink has
been in the clouds over the mountains of Asia and in the waterfalls of Africa.

The air you breathe has swirled thru places of the earth that no one has ever
seen. Every bit of you is a bit of the earth and has been on many strange and
wonderful journeys over countless millions of years.

Lorine Niedecker, Lake Superior Country