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A synergy between jewelry and oils

Sunday, December 15, 2013
Artists Ashley Thompson and Laura Michelle Gomes. Photo: Marsha Pearce

In the recent exhibition by early-career artists Ashley Thompson and Laura Michelle Gomes, oil paintings and jewelry designs radiated with synergetic energy. Entitled Élan, the show demonstrated a passion for their creative practices and a capacity for their art to ignite the spirit of the viewer or wearer.


There was a discernible interaction between Thompson’s pigments on canvas---with her incorporation of glittering hue---and Gomes’ collection of silver, brass and bronze pieces.


"I worked with metallic paint for the first time because of Laura. I found that the quality of light bouncing off her jewelry worked well in my art," said Thompson.


Indeed, her painted land and seascapes articulated her focus on light and its many qualities: soft, warm, cool, dazzling. She often divided the canvas so that the viewer felt the immensity of the sky, with the sun piercing clouds in streaks or illuminating billowing masses in images of fiery firmaments. Her application of paint in diagonal strokes in a number of the pieces gave a dynamism and vigour to the work that were in keeping with all that the word élan signifies: including spiritedness or flair.


Gomes drew inspiration from Thompson’s colour palette, choosing gemstones like sodalite, garnet, carnelian and amethyst that echoed the blues, reds and violets to be found in the paintings. Lyrical lines and organic shapes characterised her jewelry designs in ways that held a strong dialogue with Thompson’s emphasis on the natural environment.


"When I sketch, I never think of coral, vines or leaves but those elements come out in my work," Gomes said.


The myriad textures and large scale of some of her pieces gave the work an assertive presence and were reminders for audiences of the exhibition’s theme of élan or boldness. "The intention with my jewelry is to bring out confidence. When you wear it you feel like a stronger person," Gomes added.


The exhibition was the first showing in Trinidad for the artists. Thompson studied art at the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota, and Gomes is still a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Though new to the art scene, the ability of these young creatives to propel us into mental territory where we can acknowledge the grandeur of our world and the majesty of our being, makes them artists to watch.


• Élan ran from December 4-7 at the Art Society headquarters.


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