REVIEW: Cecily Herzig at Supreme Court in Montpelier
By Theodore A. Hoppe
It might be easy to categorize Cecily Herzig, a cum laude graduate from Mount Holyoke College, as an illustrator of children's books in the vein of Suzette Barbier or Christine Benjamin. All have a marvelously playful style that displays an imaginative flow and uses a mix of images and words, but there is more complexity unfolding in Cecily Herzig’s artwork. In this exhibit entitled A Very Hungry Rabbit Should be Fed, Herzig is not simply telling a story, she is sharing what she hears and sees in a very personal way, including the perplexities a child might feel, and this leaves the viewer to figure out what happened.
"I wish for something" is repeated three times in one picture, like a short poem. What is wished for? I am content but will always miss you is the mysterious title of another. "There is no forever. What more can you ask for?" is another bit of wonder, as is "Please, please, please" tattooed into characters chasing one another. Like Alice Through the Looking-Glass, we are drawn to follow the rabbit, down the rabbit-hole, because "A very hungry rabbit should be fed." This is art that one needs to live with, to spend time with and not just look at, in order to uncover its secrets.
The works included in the exhibition employ a range of media – oils, prints, watercolors, and crayons. The Crayon Creature series started with sunny spheres and mischievous creatures, part bird part butterfly, inspired by a solar energy project Herzig's husband's was working on. They morphed into stranger characters, more frantic than scary, but always curious looking. At some point, these Crayonamundo pictures, which include collaborative efforts with her pre-school son, began incorporating a "stream of consciousness" type of text – random thoughts, lyrics from a song in the background, things said by her son, or ideas flowing from the imagination. The words and phrases add to the visual experience by creating an atmosphere to swim in.
There are only three oil paintings included in the exhibit, which is unfortunate. Herzig's oil paintings are her most thought-out works and display her artistic talents on a finer level. The watercolor, gouache, and ink pieces are the artist's most recent works. Written texts, absent from the oil paintings, have returned as well, but this time the phrases are longer, more involved, more like poetic verse. These newer pieces are a combination of the crayon series' style and the expressionist style of the oils. Now, the strange characters morph out of the impressions of the watercolor blotches. Asleep on a living pillow is a small community of smiles with eyes that evokes a "Where's Waldo" feel. Though she intended to paint some landscapes while on vacation in the Virgin Islands, the artist's paintings once again became a unique cast of characters: birds (Bad News for the Bird), an elephant (Elephant Hee Haw), Ticks, and other characters and scenarios that are beyond description, such as Lovely Little Shoes, & But 1st the Beauty Parlor. Is it possible to be puzzled and charmed at the same time?
Herzig approaches her art with a child-like understanding, not childish, but with an innocence and enthusiasm, with surprise and endless questions. She seems amazed by her ability to turn something so playful, whimsical, and personal into objects of importance.
Cecily Herzig is wholly original and defies labels. While there are signature elements to her work, her style is constantly evolving as she pushes her work forward. One gets the sense that this young artist has much more to show us.
Cecily Herzig's artwork will be on display at the Vermont Supreme Court until April 30, 2010. Gallery hours are Monday - Thursday, 8 - 4:30, Fridays 12:30-4:30 (closed April 2).
Images: Top to Bottom: A Very Hungry Rabbit Should be Fed, three oil paintings, watercolor detail
Vermont Art Zineprovides writeups and reviews of Vermont exhibitions great and small, publishes essays on a range of matters of interest to our visual arts community, and posts links to art resources, portfolios, and blogs by Vermont artists and others (see below). We hope to broaden the range of venues and artists under general discussion with the goal of fostering greater aesthetic awareness, stronger support for the visual arts, and the creation of a critical community in Vermont, for Vermont.
Vermont Art Zineencourages contributions from Vermont art critics and reviewers, as well as unsolicited contributions on topics in the visual arts from a diverse range of artists’ voices from around the Green Mountain State.
Our facebook page is updated frequently with headlines and images. Please COMMENT and discuss what's happening on VAZ and in the visual arts community! Post your own news and links!
How to submit a PRESS RELEASE
We'd love to post your venue's press release. Please send us a prose paragraph of text about the exhibition/event AND one or more jpeg images. Please DO NOT send just an electronic exhibition card. We reserve the right to decline inadequate press releases.
We want Vermont Art Zine to be a commons for our Vermont visual arts community, with information and pictures about shows, artists, and venues around the state. To make that happen, we need artist/writer participation from many, many different voices in many different places in Vermont.
Do you have ideas about issues and hot-button topics in the visual arts? We post questions for response and debate. Let us hear from you!
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How To Add Your Link
If you're a Vermont artist or a visual arts presenter, we'd be happy to list your website or blog (one of each) in our LINKS. Send your link to email@example.com. If you'd put up a reciprocal link, that would be great!
Blog Listing Policy
Vermont Art Zine offers to link to one blog per Vermont artist. Send your request to the addresses above. We reserve the right to remove blogs from this list if they have been without a new post for 6 months. If you use your blog more as a website (that is, you put it up and then more or less leave it, with just occasional updates), ask us to list it under VT Artists instead.
We will be happy to link to one website for each Vermont artist. If you have a website and a blog, we will link to one of each. A Vermont artist is someone who resides in the state for more than half the year. Artist websites should be about the visual artwork of the artist. It's OK to sell through your site, but it should be your own work.