May 15, 2022 – May 20, 2022
‘Everything Changes’ exhibition featuring en plein air (outdoor painting) works by Shifra Gassner.
Exhibition open Sundays 10am-2pm & weekdays 10am-2pm until May 27
at Raglan Old School Arts Centre, 5 Stewart St, Raglan
The paintings were created over a year of setting up outside and observing the land and seascapes of Raglan. “I started making up landscapes from my head. Then I copied masters from books. By the time summer came, it became clear the virus (Covid) was not transferred easily outdoors. Being outside became the safe place to be. My son fished while I painted. It was the perfect duet.” Some of the changes in Shifra’s life were momentous; a move from the United States to New Zealand with her son brought them to Raglan to be near his father. “We came to New Zealand to experience the world without Covid, but of course that all changed. I continued to paint everyday outside. I learned how to paint in the rain, wind, in intense sun, near cows, with insects, and curious dogs.”
Before coming to New Zealand, Shifra had been teaching in Iowa and in March 2022 when spring break started school just never went back. “I taught science by way of crafts in a children’s museum, afterschool and holiday programmes. My closets were full of art materials. With everything changing now, this became the moment to make art. To just do it.” “When I paint a scene, I try to represent the one thing that attracted me to the scene truthfully. I wait for the light to change throughout the day, the tides to change detectably every three hours, the colour to change in each season. Once I’ve captured the scene and composition, I complete my work indoors.”
Shifra says the beauty of nature transcends the stress that change can bring, and painting became a form of release and activism. “It has been a beautiful experience to be outside painting. Being outside in awe of nature motivates me to fight for the Earth. At some point the global crisis will change from Covid to Climate Crisis. As I closely observe, the contours of the hill, the angle of the limestone outcroppings, the shadow between the rocks that the receding tide has revealed, the shape of tree clusters, I know the impacts of climate change are about to change the landscape