past perfect // future tense: mixed media works by Dorothy Simpson Krause
Jul 11, 2020
Since her introduction to computers while working on her doctorate at Penn State in the 1960s, Dorothy Simpson Krause has explored the possibilities of computers and digital printmaking as an artist. Her investigations led her to a close collaboration with Hewlett Packard, helping them to develop archival inks for Fine Art applications and pushing the capabilities of their printers. Trained as a painter, but a collage artist with a magpie sensibility, she enthusiastically embraced the possibilities of computers as yet another tool in making art, and helped to pave the way for the digital art generation. As writer Meg Brazill noted in her Art New England review of Krause' work, "it's difficult to categorize or even discern with certainty, which technique she is employing. What's ultimately the story is the end result: her work. Krause's process is complex but her concerns are simple: her landscapes remind us of what we have to lose" (Art New England, March/April 2017). Each work in this exhibition speaks to the artist's fearless exploration of non-traditional methods, beginning at a time well before digital processes were made widely accessible.
Ranging in size from small 12 x 12 inch mixed media collage works to a majestic 36 x 36 inch pigment transfer on aluminum, Krause' works share a precarious beauty. Palette and media bring to mind historical documents, golden and sepia toned, encaustic giving a gauzy sheen to the surface. Her own photographs are the departure point for her landscapes, such as in Backwater (2008, diptych, UV cured flatbed print on Dibond with mixed media, 24 x 48 inches). Here a brushy bank of golden scrub reflects in the dark, subtly rippled surface of a body of water, illuminated by a painterly green-gold sky. The artist captures a moment of stillness in nature, the luminosity at once oddly precious and menacing. A small mixed media work on wood, Liberty (2000, 12 x 12 x 1.5 inches) feels prescient to our present moment: juxtaposing an image of an ancient Roman depiction of Medusa with an image of the Statue of Liberty, this work creates a dialogue between two powerful mythological women. While Medusa famously turned to stone anyone who looked at her, Libertas shines the torch of enlightenment showing the path to freedom. In Krause' work these images which bridge ancient and more recent history seems to speak to a deeply human need for myths and symbols. Given a careful patina of age, it becomes a historical artifact, a fragment discovered in a distant future time. These landscapes and reconstructed artifacts, seen through a golden lens and sepia-toned patina, do not speak to a misplaced nostalgia for times past, rather they sound a warning for an uneasy future.
In addition to being Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts College of Art, Krause is also a member of Digital Atelier, an artists' collaborative she co-founded in 1994. Her work has won many awards including the Smithsonian/ComputerWorld Technology in the Arts Award (1997), and the Kodak Innovator Award (2000). Her work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including The Landing Gallery (Rockland, ME); Evos Art Institute (Lowell, MA); the Attleboro Museum of Art (Attleboro, MA); The Judi Rotenberg Gallery (Boston, MA); 571 Projects (New York City). Her work is in many museum collections including The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Dalarna Museum (Dalarna, Sweden); The Smithsonian Museum of American Art (Washington, DC); Art Complex Museum (Duxbury, MA); State Museum (Novosibirsk, Russia); and The DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (Framingham, MA). Krause was selected as the inaugural Helen M. Salzburg Artist-in-Residence at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University (2012).