The Burrow, Green District
The inspiration for the Burrow Art Collection was drawn from the surrounding forest of eastern Massachusetts. This collection brings together talented and acclaimed artists from across the region, each influenced in their own way by nature and the beauty of their environment.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach…”
-Henry David Thoreau
Each breathtaking photograph of Ellen’s is a carefully arranged still life of nature captured with detailed accuracy on a flatbed scanner and printed on aluminum. Her unique approach to flora sculpture and photography was noted in the New York Times by Ken Druse who wrote “What sets them apart as original…is the way the plants look. They are unlike pressed flowers or cut flowers in a bouquet, and they are also unlike an old master or Impressionist painting, or even a conventional photographic print. There is really something eerie about their perfection, every petal looks surreally fresh, every leaf extra crisp.” Her work is like a mirror into the green growing earth, immortalized forever like the daffodils in Wordsworth’s poem.
New Haven, Connecticut
Steven’s large-scale paintings often depict human conflict, action and movement. Their narrative imagery creating the sensation of sound: drums tumbling amongst people, crowds clashing and grappling, limbs entangled in what one imagines is a crescendo of shouts. This works contrast with his landscapes that often evoke the industrial revolution and the large complex of rusted metal being taken over by the quiet growth of trees and vines. A conflict full of movement, to be sure, but one that is slower in the battle, of machines vs. nature. These large narrative ideas, tempestuous perhaps in nature, are only hinted at in Edgewood, displayed at the entrance of the Burrow. This Arcadian oasis invites the viewer into the painting. If you look closely, one can see geometric lines receding into the flora of the landscape, in this location nature thrives and the busy man made world is at bay. Edgewood, a park near the artist studio in Connecticut is one of pleasant walks and of comfort to the artist, this location and its lush foliage offers a respite to the viewer as well.
Graham combines found printed materials with collage and stencils to create multilayered and irreverent assemblages. His images made from cut paper and objects are sporadically painted with handmade stencils and abstract designs then coated with resin, ultimately creating a solid work of art that is multi-dimensional. His source of vintage and modern magazine pages and obscure printed ephemera naturally evoke references to consumerism and pop imagery, which he plays with in humorous juxtapositions without offering a specific narrative, allowing the viewer to create their own connections.
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Stephanie creates intricate pencil drawings on panel clay board; her works are vignettes of surreal beauty and intimate portrayals of flora and fauna. Her interest in birds and reptiles can be seen throughout her work: from small delicate hatchlings to powerful and disarming alligators and ostriches. In the Burrow collection, Full depicts an Iguana nestled in the foliage of its diet, while surrounded by intrepid birds that sit on the sleeping creature underneath them indifferent to their evolutionary connection. Stephanie’s mastery of draftsmanship detailing each feather and scale is a distinct quality of her work and gives her creatures such captivating brilliance.
Linda’s paintings are inspired by the abundant nature surrounding her in Massachusetts, from the sea to the wood; her palette is influenced by the topography in which she lives. Her work combines materials, such as wax, ink, oil and acrylic paint to create imagery that is often refracted from nature, and interpreted by the artist feelings while painting. Her abstracted work references the natural world through color and pattern, alluding to clouds, waves as well as horizon lines.
Tonya Hayes Lee
Tonya creates sweeping landscapes with vast expansive skies and atmospheric sublimity. She works in oil paint and plays with the viscosity by contrasting thicker impasto brush work with washes of oil paint thinned by turpentine to create her tempestuous worlds. When describing her work she says: “Color is the element that is unique to the visual realm, and painting is the medium I have chosen to integrate color into my world. Color as structure, form, meaning and the fundamental and exquisite ordering of the world in its own terms.”
Brooklyn, New York
Aaron creates colorful paintings full of personal narratives and story telling that are cinematic in their depiction of everyday life. His work chronicles the world around him with a style he describes as “cartoon realism.” His paintings are mysterious and humorous with unexpected scenes from historic figures like: Alexander Hamilton and Kit Carson. Aaron lives and works in New York City and often travels across the nation to paint in new locals, his subjects reflect this geographic bounding in its diverse terrain. From the snowy mountains of Colorado to the arid desert of Joshua tree, he works from inspiration from nature and from personal experience of how people live and play in their environment or in their homes. His work in the Burrow Library, Only Science Can Save Us is an inviting bungalow full of the abounding advances made by man to improve our own lives and knowledge of the universe. The unseen occupants use a kitchen full of modern advances, while their objects throughout reflect an interest in human achievement and personal pursuits: a NASA poster for space exploration, a skull for anatomy and medicine and a globe for geology and cartography.
City Bench, Ted and Zeb Esselstyn
Brothers Ted and Zeb work in unison to create works of art from fallen trees. The large wood cross sections displayed in the interior of the Burrow are created from trees taken from the Marlboro site where this building now stands. The brothers talk about their obsession for reclaiming wood and their process as follows: “City Bench grew out of our passion for building beautiful objects with meaning and a story. It also grew out of a reverence for the trees that line our streets, fill our public spaces, and enliven our campuses. Those trees represent our shared space and generations of common stories –they are also vital and overlooked resources…We extend the life left in those trees by building uniquely handcrafted furniture that tells their stories. Community and connection to place are built into everything we create-whether that community is a big city, a small town…Our pieces have a “birth certificate” describing the tree’s origin, significance and story. Our aim is to build a meaningful and lasting enterprise, which creates positive environmental and social change and contributes to the vitality of the communities in which we operate.
Mark Luiggi is an artist, author and illustrator whose work references pop imagery, vintage fashion and architecture. His illustrations on wood block can be seen throughout the Burrow lending a bit of humor and clever craftsmanship to the spaces.
Hurley, New York
Amy is a painter, a podcast host and a zine maker. Her diverse milieu reflects an active mind constantly exploring creatively. Amy’s colorful and expressive landscapes discern from nature essential forms conveying the uniqueness of each tree and forest. She works in oil paint to create both paintings and collage that in her words “create landscape compositions that live in a realm of memory, color and fantasy. I love working with unique and personified natural forms and see them as characters on a kind of stage. In my work, trees and undergrowth can seemingly come to life and become actors within an outdoor theater. I enjoy investigating and repeating these forms through painting and drawing and this process generates huge amounts of material that can further be disassembled and re-combined with other painting remnants as collage.”
Fort Edward, New York
Katie works with watercolor on paper to create stunning images of branches and tree limbs uniquely marked by nature with lichen, bark, molds and epivites. She paints in in a large format giving each branch individuality and dignity reminiscent of portraiture. Her branches seem to saunter with life and character. Describing her influence Katie states: “We are taught to look at trees based on a stereotype, the image of a perfectly pruned tree is the one most people have in their heads, balanced and symmetrical. But in nature those rarely exist. Trees grow to survive, they adapt to their given environment, growing into strange shapes, producing oddly shaped limbs, becoming contortionists to get to sunlight, bowing to the will of other larger trees. They grow in context to each other and their neighbors, adapting as best they can to the situation they find themselves in. While my artwork has always been based on a traditional observation process, the final appearance of the objects in my paintings is grounded in contemporary ideas and concerns and by my own quirky interpretation of the objects’ personality.”
New Haven, Connecticut
Leslie Carmin is an artist and art consultant; she is also the Associate Head of Branford College at Yale University. Her curation of the Burrow, Green District is has been in collaboration with Andy Montelli. The inspiration for the Burrow Art Collection was drawn from the surrounding forest of eastern Massachusetts. The collection brings together talented and acclaimed artists from across the region, each influenced in their own way by nature and the beauty of their environment.