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       Priscilla Foley


"Necessity is not always the mother of invention, but in my case it’s true. After having painted in oils at college, I found myself in post-graduate life without access to a studio.The kitchen table became my studio and watercolors the medium of choice. At the same time, as a teacher at a local high school, I began experimenting with collage as a way to put students more in touch with their imagination.  The idea was to encourage them to move beyond representational images since many youths of high school age habitually focus on reproducing detail. One thing led to another. I’d seen a lesson in which students were asked to tear up a work of their own making, reassemble the remnants, and create something entirely new. The lesson was originally intended as an exercise but, after the initial shock at destroying a piece of work, students soon began to perceive new avenues to interpretation and expression. The process of placing, altering, and adding other materials to the image gave more freedom. Over time, I have progressively adopted these same techniques.

Two of my favorite themes are urban landscapes and water birds. Urban landscapes interest me because they reflect large swathes of our culture. Progressing along a road, graphic communications are a visually noisy presence that jostle our attention to competing ideas, products, services, daily life choices and, within their given context, our history. Architectural styles of contrasting age, purpose and design mingle in this visual onslaught. Trees, traffic lights and utility poles provide parameters and perspective. Painting water birds opens an entirely different landscape of swamps, marshes, ponds, inlets and rocky coastlines. The appeal of birds derives from their diverse behavior as they squabble, compete, dive, hunt, and upend in an unrelenting quest for food and territory. The patterns and colors of their plumage, some of startling beauty, provide each species with a unique identity that marks its presence in its natural habitat. In these subjects, as well as others, collage provides me with a means to express and visualize my impression of the moment. "

- Priscilla Foley Blackman


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