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Faces and Figures : A look at the award winners


A closer look at four award-winning images in the Faces & Figures exhibition on view through Nov. 2nd


LELIA BYRON receives Juror’s “Faces” Award for Nico and the Accursed Kings
Nico and the Accursed Kings -Oil on canvas:  30 x 40″


Juror, Robin Wiseman,  “I very much appreciate Byron’s handling of the paint and its physicality and how that guides the viewer to the dominant focus, which is the face, and how all the elements relate to the whole. The interaction between the flat pattern and the molding of the form remind me of Lucian Freud’s natural interpretations in a material setting. “
Lelia Byron,  “I made this painting over a series of very cold January days. Nico, my husband, was lying on the couch and reading to me from a series of novels called The Accursed Kings. As he read to me about scandal, political plots, and love in the 14th century French monarchy, I painted him. I am interested in incorporating patterns in my paintings, and around Nico I painted a flat blanket with a dark red and purple pattern to contrast with his body. I remember thinking that the light from the window was like a spotlight on his face.”


BECKY DAVIS receives Juror’s “Figures” Award for Bubba and the Playhouse
Bubba and the Playhouse –Mixed media: 12 x 12″


Juror, Robin Wiseman  “In Bubba and the Playhouse, Davis uses the main figure to create a world as much from a child’s imagination as from life.  The definition of the major figure is just right -the central photo is not too dominant. It is leading but does not take over the total image. The experimental usage of mixed media is strong, and the use of a limited palette helps the viewer form associations, putting the viewer into a child’s world in a wonderful way.”


Becky Davis, “Bubba and the Playhouse tells the story of a specific area of my grandmother’s backyard and how it has changed over time.  Once the site of my childhood playhouse, it later became the home to a fish named Bubba and playground to my son.  The creative process starts with constructing a collage of altered images.  These images include old family photographs and my own photography.  Then, I begin a painting on a panel.  The collage is then transferred on top of the painting before the work is completed with another layer of painted elements.”
Pawtucket Arts Collaborative Award for Faces goes to MIA CROSS for Blue Baby
Blue Baby – Oil on canvas: 48 x 48″
PACCommanding in size, color and image, Blue Baby stops you in your tracks. Mia Cross reduces the elements of a face into the most basic, except for the eyes and, in doing so, the viewers experience becomes intensely intimate and charged.


Mia Cross, “Blue Baby was the first piece in which I experimented with isolating the eyes into individual circles, rendering them distinct from the rest of the face. After a couple of gestural marks, and a red lip, I knew that the rest of the painting should be a simple sea of blue. This was a continued exploration of blurring distinctions between subject and background. I wanted to push how much a face can be simplified, with several moments of intense detail, while still conveying a certain feeling. Despite finishing the piece rather quickly, it is one of my favorites. Perhaps because I let the piece play itself out, without overcomplicating it. Surely I could live in that color blue forever.”
Pawtucket Arts Collaborative Prize for Figures goes to AMY ARAUJO for Susceptible

Susceptible-Charcoal on paper: 60 x 52″


PAC  On a smaller sheet of paper, the figure in Susceptible might convey the sense of a figure trapped in a tight space.  But placed as it is on a very large white sheet, the artist creates an instant sense of isolation as well as a tension between flat paper and three-dimensional form.  Araujo’s sophisticated draftsmanship is as if withheld, hidden, folded up in this gesture of withdrawal.
Amy Araujo, “Susceptible is a piece I made right at the end of my time in the graduate program at UMASS Dartmouth. In my earlier work, my drawings rarely showed my self-portraits or figures in a vulnerable state of being, which was something I began to think about. I also began to consider drawing a self-portrait in a way that left my identity unclear, which in my mind would make the drawing more relatable.
Susceptible comes from the idea of the experience of being forced into a sort of transitional state where one is physically in a space but mentally elsewhere, to a going within, or being two places at once.”
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