This article was written for TheRaleighArtist.org
When viewing non-representational art, it is often most beneficial for the viewer to find meaning through the artist's interpretation rather than conjuring up answers on their own. After all, there’s more to art than simply liking it or not liking it. Such was the case one First Friday evening as I gallivanted from gallery to gallery in search of something different. My interests peaked when I viewed the vibrant and energizing vertical "stripes" of Linda Ruth Dickenson at the Collector's Gallery off Moore's Square in downtown Raleigh. It was there that I overheard someone explaining that there is a story behind the stripes.
I set off to hear the story from the artist herself. I ventured over to ArtSpace where Dickenson has been a resident artist since 2002. Her studio is comfortably situated in an upper level corner adjacent to other inspiring artists. After viewing her work for the first time, she was kind enough to invite me back again and give me some personal insight into her vertical "bands" of color and horizonscapes of reductive expanse.
In order to better understand Dickenson's view of the world and thus her interpretation on canvas, I wanted to know where she comes from. Born to American missionary parents, Dickenson spent the first 18 years of her life in Taiwan before moving to the US for college. While gazing out onto South Blount Street from her studio window, she explained to me that the fusion between the two distinctive cultures is often incorporated in her paintings along with biblical and natural inspirations. In the series currently displayed in her ArtSpace studio, Dickenson's paintings reflect "concepts" that can be understood universally. For instance, Age, a sequence of three paintings, reveals an experience that anyone can relate to: life. Although she paints with intention, Dickenson encourages her viewers to share their own interpretations and has found that viewers are often cognizant of underlying subtleties within the paint that she can inversely learn from.
Drawing from her Asian roots, Dickenson harmoniously balances ying and yang concepts in each piece of the vertical series. Likewise, by altering complementary hues, resonances and dissonances literally draw the viewer into the piece where they can create their own experience. If you have the opportunity to view a piece in the series you will notice the constant motion created by Dickenson's choice of color placement.
I encourage readers to experience art first hand and speak with the artist if you are fortunate enough to do so. During her residency at ArtSpace, Dickenson has been visited by tours of school children, senators, and Buddhist Monks alike. She is a warm spirit who welcomes the opportunity to share and educate everyone who visits her, as is the intent of ArtSpace.