900 Lafayette Boulevard, Bridgeport, CT // Lafayette Hall
WEIR FARM: VISITING ARTISTS 2001

Michael Torlen

Michael Torlen, SONGS FOR MY FATHER: LIGHT FROM THE WOODSWeir Farm, 2001mixed media painted transfe

SONGS FOR MY FATHER: LIGHT FROM THE WOODS
Weir Farm, 2001
mixed media painted transfer


I think of my work with the landscape of Weir Farm as a dialogue, a conversation with a medium and a site. In this conversation, the landscape's seasons, weather, time and light are implied in the variations, interpretations and reinterpretations. The fit of the medium to the subject matter is a metaphor; just as Nature creates unique, particular variations of the landscape so my mixed media painted transfers express an analogous order within a series. The original motif is visible in each variation, yet no two are exactly alike.

J. Alden Weir, who was both a painter and printmaker, built a portable studio pulled by oxen and used oil paints packaged in tubes in order to paint the landscape, directly, out of doors. These were two technological and artistic choices that, in his day, were new. I too am responding to the landscape through a contemporary medium, consistent with my temperament, artistic vision and period.

My mixed media painted transfers are hybrid print-based works on paper that incorporate field work, photography, computer editing, digital printing, traditional printmaking, and hand painting. The merging of pigmented digital information with handwork and 19th and 20th century painting and printmaking technology embraces traditional artistic practice while using modern tools and techniques.

The larger context for my artistic project, Songs for My Father, is a body of nearly 1,000 works, inspired by the land and sea, in various media, dedicated to my late father, a Norwegian commercial fisherman. I painted the landscape, a long-standing Nordic subject, in and around Acadia National Park, Maine, during the 1980's, and have worked on Monhegan Island since 1995. In winter 1999, while an artist-in-residence at Weir Farm, I began to explore the woodlands as a complement to the seacoast.

Michael Torlen is an Associate Professor of Visual Art at Purchase College, State University of New York where he teaches painting and drawing. Mr. Torlen has exhibited widely, including one-person exhibitions at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY; Luise Ross Gallery, New York, NY; and the Alexander Milliken Gallery, New York, NY, among others. His work is in numerous collections including the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, JP Morgan Chase, Pepsico Inc., and Deloitte & Touche.