Intern Perspectives: Neena Birch’s “A Wonder-Filled Life”

Lauren King, our intern from Pennsylvania State University, wrote the following reaction to our current exhibition,”A Wonder-Filled Life” by Neena Birch. The show will continue through Sunday, June 29th. 

From May 28 – June 29, 2014, Washington Printmakers Gallery presents a retrospective exhibition on Neena Birch’s extensive collection entitled A Wonder-Filled Life. A one-time member of WPG, Birch created these 60 prints, drawings and paintings, which all demonstrate her diverse and evolving artistic style. This exhibition pays tribute to that talent and consequently her admirable creative impact that still lives.

Neena Birch’s works combine nature with imagination. Upon entering, the viewer sees the moss-covered sculpture Bed. It awaits a sleeper, and in a sense, the visit resembles a reverie. Birch uses recurring themes such as birds, women, pears, and flowers, and gives these everyday subjects meaning and creativity. Her women become trees; the pears are anthropomorphized, while the birds take on a life of their own. These works evoke emotion and thought that may differ with each viewer. No piece is the same, yet they all evoke a sense of Birch’s artistic hand and mind.

Birch’s exhibit exemplifies variations on recurrent themes, and this exhibition links these themes in one show. One fascinating theme is the flower. Her floral depictions are unlike any of her other works, which made me question her intention. They seem like the work of another artist, but similar to the rest of her works, they too are fantasized. Like the pears, the birds, and the other subjects, the flower lithographs have their own variations: they are larger than life. Birch creates an enlarged depiction where curves, shadows, and shapes make up the flower. They are dreamlike and realistic at the same time. Monochromatic yet enticing, these lithographs break down the flowers’ forms and give the viewer new perspectives. Neena Birch’s works demonstrate her true artistic talent that creates new realities.

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