Deborah Stern: Acoustic Paintings

Deborah Stern: Acoustic Paintings – October 2-27, 2007

Blue Mountain Gallery presents an exhibition of recent paintings by Deborah Stern. The show features structural abstract paintings with a distinctly elongated vertical orientation.  The layers and levels of invention and method result in complex imagery that does not easily conform to familiar definitions of style or simple interpretation.

This new show, entitled “Acoustic Paintings” is both a departure from her recent explorations of combined multimedia collage, photography and painting and a partial return to her earlier large paintings, albeit with specifically changed views of space and color.

The exhibition title derives from 3 distinct definitions of the term acoustic and is intended to address all three elements.  In the first and obsolete definition of the noun (circa 1595), acoustic was “a remedy for deafness”.  In the second, the term as an adjective denotes “designed for controlling sound”.  In the third, adjective usage, it “pertains to the science of sound”.

These works are not intended to visually represent sound (as may be assumed by the cursory observer), but to depict the shapes, spaces, and physical realities that shape sound, as we perceive it.  Thus, there are strong architectural elements and references to spaces found in nature that amplify, mute, reflect, and alter sound.  Exaggerated changes in depth, perspective, and color theory expansions are employed to challenge the viewer to understand our hearing of sound, as affected by both natural and man-made structural forms and the space they create.

This new work represents yet another new direction for an artist continually searching for new means of visual expression, in terms of both media and artistic content.  She remains heavily influenced by her continuing photographic background, but has returned to her painting roots, incorporating richly dense color and sharply defined structural elements.  The result is a unique collection of paintings predicated upon her continuing philosophy that observers should perceive art quite differently, varying both inter-observer and intra-observer.  Specifically, not only should each viewer derive considerably divergent perceptions of each piece, but also the same viewer should be able to return to each work and come away with a new perspective at each viewing.  In this instance, it should mimic, visually, the same variation of response that is elicited by sound (e.g. – music) for each individual