There is an environmental meaning in what I do, but there is also a metaphor about the river: the impermanent place where our collective dreams merge and embrace transformation. –Gloria Calderón-Sáenz
It is easy to see Calderón-Sáenz’s deep attachment to the landscapes and dreams that she depicts. The deeply detailed and organic carved patterns of her two dimensional work are elegant and meandering, at the same time that her painting is bold and expressive.
In the work, Patterns of Creation, the viewer has to lean close to see what marks are brushstrokes and which are carved from the panel. A bird’s eye view, it’s easy to feel as if one is sweeping over a landscape in a dream. The work is delicate and the stylized scene seems completely removed from human error or footprint, adding to the perception of a dreamlike ideal.
Rivers of Blood is also surreal, but entirely different. Very abstract, the piece seems more rooted in reality, or at least, in another type of dream than Patterns of Creation. Whereas that is a Utopian ideal without humans or animals, Rivers of Blood is entirely of this world. Though the piece is not a print, it has the graphic composition and linear quality often seen in woodblock prints, where the color sits above the carved lines in the block. Because of this quality, the artist’s hand and human interaction is much more present.
The Source is currently on view in the Gibbs Gallery. It began its life as part of huge tree in Arlington Heights. When the tree was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Calderón-Sáenz brought home a segment of a hollow branch. The tree was left to dry until the artist returned from hiking in the Andes where she saw a place where a small lake feeds a river and that spot inspired the carving.
Calderón Sáenz is an Arlington-based artist; her studio is located at Arlington Center for the Arts. Her work will be on view in the Gibbs Gallery in the Elements: Images of Arlington until May 16, 2014.
You can see more of her work at http://www.gloriacalderonsaenz.com/index.php