Karen Gaudette: Wishing for the Moon

March 19 - June 13, 2016

Wishing for the Moon is a series of fourteen scratchboard drawings that metaphorically reflect a middle-aged woman’s journey to find true love. The artist, Karen Gaudette, bravely takes cues from her life and turns them into a visual fairy tale. She represents herself through characters such as the mermaid, the heron, and the bather, and portrays male personalities and others as animal/human hybrids in symbolic clothing. Each of Gaudette’s skillfully drawn images can be taken as a story in itself; combined, they create a tableau offer a richer narrative.

Some of the many symbols Gaudette employs are universal—the moon, clocks, acorns, and oak leaves. Others are more personal, such as the cherries and blueberries that appear in several images, and may be harder to decipher. Sometimes she references local culture—a buck dressed in a flannel shirt or a sap bucket attached to a tree. Gaudette invites viewers to enjoy discovering or inventing meaning for symbols she depicts in each drawing.

Scratchboard is a reductive drawing technique in which sharp tools are used to scrape through an upper surface, usually black, creating a design in a lower surface, often white. Gaudette uses a manufactured product made from hardboard, coated first with white kaolin clay and then with India ink. She draws into the black ink surface with a pen that holds very sharp, V-shaped metal nibs. Making strokes with different nibs, she creates white dots, lines, crosshatching, and clean areas that describe textures, subtle tonal values, motion, and light.

Karen Gaudette studied printmaking at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She chose scratchboard as her preferred medium nearly two decades ago to create drawings that burst with narrative and fantasy, and to illustrate calendars, datebooks, and magazines.

— Susan Calabria, Curator


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