Go With the Flow 

Andrea Prince's "Creative Journey."

Creative Journey," the current exhibition at Thames Art and Interiors, provides a rare opportunity to track an artist's progress. Andrea Prince's series of acrylic ink works on paper evolves from an ornate and graphic style into subtle and intriguing abstract images.

Prince warms up the show by bejeweling a butterfly's wing in Spiraling Series. She continues to build energy with her signature ellipses in Expansion, Chrysalis, and the exuberant Emerging. She then charges the remaining 16 paintings with complex, contrapuntal tensions.

Through the Looking Glass loops and weaves together stones, bricks, flowers, electrical grids, microscopic life, sky, and layers of memory. This labyrinth of lenses, portals, and transparencies offers the viewer Prince's fleeting impressions and a look deep into her wider vision.

Up, Down, Round and Round maps a unique geological history of the world: layers of sea beds, salt floes, and rich deposits of ore that are topped off by a ribbon of viscous purple. Here, perhaps, is the flow of lava. Or is it blood? The map's midsection depicts the surface of the earth as irregular sloping plots of land that bring to mind small communities whose members settled at the bends of rivers, planted hillside gardens, and honored seasonal cycles. Some of the plots are new spring-green. Others are brown from tilled earth or a too-hot summer. Other plots turn rusty orange from the approaching winter. This color is repeated at the map's top left. Here the earth is stripped down to its ores, and all other nuances of color and life disappear. Top right a series of rectangular grids complete the map as industry transforms the world into planned communities, malls, and parking lots.

Cancan demonstrates Prince's ability to layer her compositions without muddying colors or chocking flow. In this work, the sky is filled with transparent half-circles edged with blue wings. It's a dynamic, resonant work, bringing to mind flying or the flip of a dancer's skirt.

Evocative shapes fill Spaces in Between as well. Tall, lean rectangles look like skyscrapers in a night sky. Other rectangles reach up and morph into circles on the face of a floating icon that could be an egg or a space pod. With energetic form, Prince puts us in a place somewhere between science fiction and the probable future.

Untitled (Tree) tells a story about exploration and discovery. Within a circular format, the deep furrows of a tree flow like rivulets through pale gray atmosphere. At the center of the composition, the tree disappears into an opaque and velvety void created by thick application of blue-black acrylic inks. Lush pink and red flowers at the top of the tree's canopy become descending, looping, concentric ovals. Prince describes this synthesis of two universal archetypes -- ying-yang and the tree of life -- as "endless cycles and labyrinths reflecting life's paths, choices, and search for understanding of self."

Down Deep, one of the most successful paintings in the show, stands as a visual metaphor for the creative process. Prince's palette becomes calmer and more Zen as she takes us deep into mind and matter. New moons float in a light taupe sky; lines in gray-brown earth suggest burrowing moles and earthworms. Down deeper you'll find lotuses at various stages of unfolding. Deeper still are geometric circuitries -- the hard wiring of mind and matter. At bottom, the form of a monk in robes bows his shaved head in deep meditation. Here is the place where nothing is coveted but awareness and where prolonged concentration leads to an intimate knowledge of how the mind works. In such a place as this, Prince's creative ideas flow freely. n

"Creative Journey" at Thames Art and Interiors through July 24th

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