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Celebrate the talented women of our region! This is a sampling of short films about contemporary artists and artisans in the Hudson Valley, showcasing a wide variety of styles, disciplines, and mediums.
Women Artists & Artisans
Susan Basch: Jewelry Maker
It's absolutely mesmerizing to watch Kingston mixed-media artist Susan Basch engage in her chosen art form, the ancient Japanese braiding technique called Kumihimo. "I use a round wooden stand called a Mura Dai, weighted wooden bobbins called tama, and an extensive variety of threads and yarns to create my hand woven braids," explains Basch, and "each braid is considered a reflection of the braid-maker." With a wide variety of colors and textures to choose from, Basch creates gorgeous patterns with endless possibilities. Having studied jewelry making and gemology, Basch developed her own unique craft by grouping different braids together to create necklaces as well as the handcrafted beads and silver clasps that embellish her wearable works of art. Blauweiss' short film provides a glorious treat for the eyes as we tour Basch's colorful and impeccably well-organized studio filled with colorful yarns she dyes herself using locally-grown plants. We listen to Basch guide us through her fiber and metal work areas filled with the tools of her trade, and see works in progress as well as finished pieces that would look stunning in any context.
Barbara Masterson: Painter
A lifelong plein air painter, Barbara Masterson lives on a farm in the heart of the Hudson Valley's apple orchard region. Captivated by the sight of migrant workers who came into the scenes she painted, Masterson began incorporating them into her colorful paintings— first at a distance, but soon cultivating personal relationships and gaining a deep insight into the crucial work they perform in an increasingly harsh political environment. Her intimate, large-scale portraits of those who often remain "unseen" by society are unforgettable. Masterson was able to invite the subjects of her paintings to see their portraits exhibited in a gallery show and even meet the patrons who purchased the artwork. Audiences remember her stunning paintings long after viewing this artist profile film and have sought out her exhibitions around the region. The filmmakers had the opportunity to visit the orchards and meet the workers with whom Masterson has developed friendships over the years while creating this film in 2017 and were thrilled to watch the expert at work in her studio. Enjoy!
Elizabeth Zunon & Her World of Books
Elizabeth Zunon is a book illustrator and author who specializes in African and African-American subject matter. After creating a book about Harlem Renaissance artist Romare Bearden, Zunon was deeply influenced by his style. She often uses both collage and painting in her artwork. One of her books tells of women in Africa who developed a creative solution to the problem of discarded plastic bags in the streets and rivers which were harming children and animals. The women collect and clean the bags, cut them into strips, crochet them into purses, and sell them. The inspiring story tells of both environmental protection and women's empowerment. Zunon also recently wrote and illustrated a book about her grandfather who cultivated cocoa beans in the Ivory Coast, a story her father recounts while baking a chocolate cake with his daughter. This short film gives a glimpse into Zunon's influences, unique style, and beautiful work on these three delightful books.
Carolyn Marks Blackwood: Photographer
Carolyn Marks Blackwood photographs nature within a several mile radius of her house, with most of her photos taken just a few steps from her door above a cliff along the Hudson River, facing the Catskill mountains. Blackwood particularly loves skies, clouds and water, and depicts them with surreal abstraction. "I find my photographs," she says. Using almost no manipulation other than cropping, her photographs burst with color and depth. Sometimes they are in gray tones, such as ice breaking up into beautiful cubist patterns in the Hudson River, and she is also a fan of abstraction.
Elisa Pritzker: Spirit of the Selk'nam
Inspired by nature and the interconnectedness of all things, artist Elisa Pritzker wants the viewer to take time to see beyond what catches their eye at first glance. Drawing abstract designs on bones and other naturally beautiful objects, her studies of Native American culture, in particular the Selk'nam tribe in Argentina, have seeped deep within her being so that the images flow and her marks come to life.
Karen Berelowitz: Karmabee Style
Karen Berelowitz doodled through three decades of school and an international development career before launching Karmabee in 2007. She prints her hand-drawn black & white designs on note cards, baby clothes, kids and adult T-shirts, cork coasters, tote bags, face masks, and more. Karen works out of her home studio in Kingston, NY, where she does everything from artwork to silkscreening to managing the retail, wholesale, and online aspects of her business. "I didn't go to business school or art school, says Karen, "and it's really fun just to come up with ideas and then figure out how to make them happen." Growing up in South Africa and spending much of her previous career in Latin America, Karen's designs have an ethnic quality to them that she feels is more subconscious than anything intentional. "I've never known how to describe my style," says Karen, "I've always just doodled...I don't think about it." Karen also teaches small business classes, licenses her drawings, and creates custom logos and designs.
The Photographs of Catherine Sebastian
Catherine Sebastian has a broad approach to her photography: she sees it as a collaboration between her and the image. She loves that viewers can appreciate her images for very different reasons. Her photos fall into a wide variety of styles, from "sometimes a shot is just there" to abstracts to a full portfolio of music photography. Sebastian feels composition is one of the main pillars of her work, not just the placement of objects, but the placement of light as well.
Women's Studio Workshop
Founded in 1974, Women's Studio Workshop sits in a historic building just outside Rosendale surrounded by mountains, trees, and the vibrant artist community of the Hudson Valley. Specializing in classic techniques such as etching, letterpress, silkscreen, ceramics, and papermaking, WSW houses artists in residence from all over the world, offers a broad array of classes including to high school students, and maintains fully stocked studios. WSW is the largest publisher of handmade books in North America. The artists' books produced at the studio cover a range of topics from the political to the personal. The books come in a variety of forms, ranging from interactive puzzles that must be assembled to accordion-folded books to those made with a variety of mixed media. Every page of every book is posted online so that the beautiful work of these women artists can be seen by a worldwide audience.
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