‘4 x 4’ exhibition on display at PCCA through April 11

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 25, 2015

 “Ablaze,” by Patrice Erickson.

“Ablaze,” by Patrice Erickson.

Photo provided by the PCCA


ROCHESTER — The Paint Creek Center for the Arts recently opened its new exhibition, “4 x 4,” which runs through April 11.

“4 x 4” features the work of four women — Candace Law, Patrice Erickson, Toby Millman and Rachel Gervais — in honor of March as national Women’s History Month.

“It’s a really unique exhibition in that it does engage and it is very educational,” said Rana Edgar, director of exhibitions and the art market.

Each artist, Edgar noted, works in a separate medium —  ceramics, printmaking, encaustic and painting. She said the exhibition showcases over 50 works that show off the formal and technical skills of each medium, as well as the distinct styles and imagery of the four artists.

“The thing that is unique about it is it brings together four artists who work in very different ways, different styles, and in four different mediums. Our intent for this exhibition was really to showcase the distinct style and practice of each artist and how each of them has something unique that influences them in their practice. We also wanted to familiarize our students and the community with four different mediums — perhaps a medium that they were not aware of — and to see the technical aspects in the form of formal skills of those mediums,” she said.

Erickson, of Rochester Hills, draws inspiration for her oil paintings from nature.

“The changing and fleeting sunlight fills the sky with glorious colors and imbues the land with a spiritual aura. It’s the peaceful and ethereal moments in the outdoors that I focus on painting, not necessarily exact depictions of a particular place,” she said in an email.

Erickson will showcase 24 oil paintings — ranging in size from 6-by-6-inch paintings up to 60-by-60-inch paintings — that she said emphasize the sky, the clouds and the colors of light passing through the atmosphere.

“The colors are vibrant yet peaceful, softly blended, gradually transitioning from one color to another,” Erickson said. “Through my paintings, I’m showing my respect for nature and reminding myself that we need to be grateful and take care of our planet.”

Gervais, of Detroit, recently graduated from the College for Creative Studies with a degree in ceramics and art education. She described her work featured in the exhibition as sculptural ceramics, which she said are a story of her visual memories and experiences.

“All of the work in the show deals with my memories of people I’ve met, places I’ve been to and music. It kind of focuses around the Detroit music scene,” she said. “All the work focuses on the small details, patterns and decorations.”

Law, of Berkley, said she has worked in different mediums over the years — such as drawing and photography — but most recently, she has been drawn to creating pieces through the encaustic process, which is painting with hot wax.

“It is an ancient medium that goes back to the time of the Greeks, and it is increasing in popularity with artists,” she said in an email. “Mostly I work abstractly, without a realistic image. Instead, I have a thought I am trying to express, or an emotion I am trying to explore visually. I enjoy working with layers of color and incorporating other materials, often prints or found objects, onto my panels.”

Law’s works in the exhibition — which mainly come from a solo show she had in the fall in Chicago called “Improvisus (unexpected)” — are all done in encaustic and incorporate mixed media.

“This ranges from using found objects like rusty metal, rust prints — literally a print made from rusted metal and transferred to paper — to shredded journal pages and some drawing,” she said.

The inspiration for many of the pieces started simply because of Law’s love for the color of rust.

“There is also a pleasure in taking unconventional materials and bringing them together in one cohesive work,” she said.

Millman, a printmaker from Hamtramck, will show a series of etchings and lithographs that are part of her ongoing investigation of the places where she has lived or traveled, many under the working title “Urban Electrification Project.”

“As a whole, they try to broach ideas of how civic infrastructure is a tool to exert political and social control,” she said in an email.

As a bonus to the exhibition, Law will teach a three-hour Introduction to Encaustic class April 9 at the PCCA, which she said will instruct participants on the history of the medium, what equipment and materials are typically used, how to start a painting, and a couple of techniques that are frequently employed. There will be demonstrations as well as individual work time. The cost is $45, and participants must pre-register through the PCCA.

Admission to the exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, call the PCCA at (248) 651-4119 or visit www.pccart.org. Video footage of the gallery talk is also available at www.pccart.org.