When Roots Resonate @ Bromfield Gallery
Text by Maryam Keramaty –
Vivian Pratt seems to be saying something about decay, aging, and death. But she doesn’t linger there long, before emerging with an object glowing with life and beauty. At the age of forty, Pratt rediscovered herself, with art, after burnout working in the technology field. This is not unlike what she does with her art materials, dead plants, that she works with and manipulates until they seem to come back to life.
Pratt hikes and collects dead plants from beaches, her sprawling backyard, vegetable and flower garden, and local conservation land near her Dedham home. She relates to the human aging process when she works with the dried branches, roots, flowers, and other natural materials. Often, she sees the human body in her materials; a gnarl, bump, or turn in a tree branch that looks like an elbow. In fact, when she has looked at plants under a microscope, she says, “the image stops feeling like plant material an starts feeling like inside a body.”
“In general, I don’t start with a concept or idea. I get involved in the process and see when something resonates.” (the title of her show, When Roots Resonate) In one piece, she started with homemade paper and then blended in plant material. She applied a thin layer of paper over that. The effect is you see plant material popping out from the translucent paper. Speaking to that moment when things feel right to her, she says, “I don’t always have words as to why or how this happens.”
She doesn’t point to any art influences in her younger years. Pratt remembers the grumpy art teacher, and the C- she received on an art project as a child. In fact, it wasn’t until after she earned her Bachelors in mathematics, her Masters in business, and experienced burnout from programming, that art emerged as an option. A few night classes in drawing and painting and she was on her way. She studied at the Massachusetts College of Art and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and has exhibited nationally since 1992.
Vivian Pratt wants to tell people what she’s doing and how she’s doing it. Her unique blog tells more about her creative journey.
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