Holly Friesen ‘lights up the night’ with spring exhibit

Edgewater Gallery at Middlebury Falls begins its spring season on March 22 with a contemporary landscape painter: Holly Friesen and her exhibit “Lighting Up The Night.” This Quebecois artist’s work revolves around “earth honoring” — where she paints images that reflect her connectedness to the wilderness.  
Since her childhood, in Saskatchewan, Canada, Friesen has used art as a tool for interacting with the world around her. As a young girl, she savored her time in the woods and spent time collecting twigs, grasses and branches. 
The artist spent her first 20 years painting with watercolors. This was primarily out of convenience as the watercolors were more portable then other mediums and allowed her to easily travel through the United States and Canada. When a specific scene spoke to her she absorbed and memorized the sounds, smells and experiences by jotting down notes and taking photos. 
After a time, Friesen felt that the watercolors did not accurately convey her passion for the energy she drew from the environment. She moved to larger canvases and began using oil and acrylic paint. 
“As an artist I feel it is my job to paint beauty. When I say ‘beauty,’ I don’t mean pretty pictures, I mean the roaring, terrifying beauty of the natural world,” Friesen explained. “I want people to feel my paintings in their belly and be reminded of their own connection to this powerful earth.” 
Friesen’s pallet employs bright and bold colors, collage, texture and layering, which is accentuated by the application of a handmade Japanese paper. 
Friesen believes her paintings are prayers and realizations of the connections we have to Earth. For her, they have spiritual meaning, and she hopes that her viewers feel the same message.
“I am heartbroken at how we seem to have forgotten our integral connection to the natural world,” she said. “I feel that until we remember that the rivers run in our own veins and the forests share our own breath we will continue to destroy our very own habitat.”
As a resident of Montreal, Friesen is proud of Canada’s current administration for its efforts to negotiate current land claims and protect the wilderness areas of the north. But Vermont is a special place for her too.  In 2016, she was an artist-in-residence at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson. From a studio that overlooked the Gihon River, she experimented with different mediums, learned from other artists, and drew inspiration from writers.
Friesen’s collections of landscapes will be on view at Edgewater Gallery at the Falls from March 22-April 5. On March 23, 6-8 p.m., guests can meet the artist over a glass of wine and enjoy the sounds of local musician Tom Boise. Documentary filmmaker Patrice Halley will be there and will be filming parts of the event for a film that he is creating about Holly Friesen’s life and work.
For more info call (802) 458-0098, email t[email protected] or visit edgewatergallery-vt.com.

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