Gallery display, artwork conveys human condition


Photo by: Contributed Photo

A piece of Riding’s abstract work influenced by her mother’s dementia displayed in her gallery.

Joshua Hardee , Copy Editor

The FMU Fine Arts Department exhibited “Lynne Riding – A Process” from Aug. 22 through Sept. 27 in the Adele Kassab Art Gallery. The exhibit was comprised of two ongoing bodies of work, which included anything from large acrylic pieces on canvas paintings to small, delicate paper and mixed media bowls, with one of the media bowls inviting viewers to insert a slip of paper containing their age and a comment: “Concerning Being” and “Cotton B/W.”

Gallery Curator Walter Sallenger said he was introduced to Riding’s work after an artist previously featured in the gallery mentioned it and he saw her work in a gallery. Sallenger also said this exhibit would be of particular interest to students and the community because it reveals Riding’s process of going from sketches to two dimensional pieces to sculptures.

Lynne Riding, who currently serves as a faculty member at the Ashley Hall Foundation in Charleston, S.C., said instead of arranging one set collection or a new body of work, she found that the venue could be utilized to show her process through new and existing artwork.

With both bodies of work examining aspects of the human condition, Riding said she finds inspiration and subjects she wants to comment on from the landscape of the environment in which she resides, current events and her personal experiences.

“I’m using my own experiences but I’m also relating in an intellectual way to the situation,” Riding said. “When I did the cotton project, there was a link with that I never dreamt of; my grandmother worked in the cotton mills in Lancashire where the cotton from here went. There’s a reference for me, but I’m also making a bigger statement about that human condition, about loss and displacement.”

Even though some of the themes and subjects of her work in this exhibit are heavy ones, Riding said she does not draw on them intentionally since they are part of her life experiences. She also said as she is often drawn to the quiet, meditative type of work; she encodes her abstract artworks with her ideas and experiences instead of blatantly expressing her intentions – the beauty of which attracts viewers until they begin to feel out the deeper meaning.

“I have had to deal with some very heavy subjects, like my parent’s dementia and my sister dying young, but everybody else does, so what I try to do is just move along,” Riding said. “I don’t draw on these intentionally; they are just in me. It’s a big reason, but I’m doing it in a subtle way at the moment, and I’m using myself and my experience because I can channel it into my art.”

Riding said where she lives and works plays a significant role in the development and expression of her ideas. According to Riding, despite the fact that she likes working with colors and shapes and that she has a playful way about herself, she found after returning from her home country of Wales that she had reverted back to the same subjects as this exhibit. Additionally, she said at the heart of her work and her intentions is being open as an artist to what touches her.

“I don’t make a plan, I’m going to investigate this,” Riding said. “If it doesn’t touch me, I don’t bother with it. I’ll take a drawing or a photograph and then I’ll think ‘how can I use that or what is that saying to me and why did it attract my attention.’”

As this exhibit is comprised of abstract pieces that convey Riding’s ideas in implicit terms, she said she could utilize this art form to express more of her personal considerations and experiences than the confines of strictly representational art forms would allow.

“The first time I let go of my representation work and made my abstract work, someone in California came up to the painting and told me exactly what it was about,” Riding said. “It was wonderful because she completely read and understood the painting and I didn’t say a thing, and that meant so much to me. It proved to me that I was right to do this.”

According to Riding, although she has recently been working with abstract artwork and creatively fulfilling her goals with the freedom this art form affords, she has always treasured art and the possibility of pursuing a career in which she can fully immerse herself. Moreover, she said she has found that this aspect of her work is something she can emphasize to her students to allow them to be completely absorbed by an artistic pursuit.

Riding said she continues to take new classes to expand her tool set and find new ways to express herself through experimentation. In addition to working in Charleston, she received an master’s of fine arts in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, a bachelor’s of fine arts in fashion and textiles from Manchester College of Art, U.K. and a two-year degree from Art Foundation from Hereford School of Art & Design, U.K.