by Tamara Gonda
My life, my art, my work—it is uniquely American abstract. Like me, it is colored by sunsets on the front porch: the long lingering sunsets of humid mid-Atlantic summers. It is infused by the shades of the ocean and the soft greens of New Hampshire and Vermont. And, more recently, it is reminiscent of high mountain ranges of the Wyoming Rockies and the Northwest Cascades. I feel those settings. The feelings and colors never fade or die.
The soft conversations on August nights looking westward inhabit my memories. And the colors we share, like fireworks in July, show themselves on my canvas. In sunsets, I see layers. In ocean waves, layers of color form from sea foam green and morph to swell into winds or blue to dawn’s first hint of pink on the horizon. My layers are often nature born yet sometimes heart and home blend with vistas and merge with memories of patchwork country quilts that layered a bed—visual evidence of a mother’s love.
If we are to have any success in painting (abstract or otherwise), our viewers must feel our experiences. Imagine walking the corridors of an unexplored museum, and in starting around a corner, imagine first seeing only the edge of a yet unexposed Gauguin. We know we are about to feel Polynesia as only Gauguin has seen it. We feel his experiences in an untamed paradise. We know this from the gut by the colors he used to simultaneously convey restful bliss and cultural awe. In O’Keeffe, we feel the thin air of the high New Mexican deserts in her choices. And, looking outside our American experiences, in Kandinsky, we feel a rigidity and a cultural singularity that is not American and, yet, evokes a German culture that has often prided itself on mechanization, clean lines, and an adherence to plan.
I have been influenced by Mark Rothko and Robert Rauschenberg. Many years ago their methods and techniques moved me to work in color and forms. Mine reveal my rural roots.
As Americans, we are generally not accepting of singular plans, views, or cultures. We embrace differences, and it shows in our work. Drop us in central Pennsylvania or the low country of South Carolina and we would almost immediately process the place by the choices in color and materials. And we would almost surely embrace the beauty of these places just as much, or more, than we accept the differences.
My work reflects an appreciation of my many different American places—places I have experienced as reinterpreted experiences for the viewer. There are no choices or contrivances in this for me. My art, like most art, is a personal and passionate reflection of me. I am proud to be able to share it as an American abstractionist. §
Tamara Gonda sees herself as a mainly American Abstract Expressionist. She has an M.F.A. from Cornell University and a B.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is represented by numerous galleries around the USA, namely New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vail, CO, and her work can be seen at TamaraGonda.com.