Come to the land of the ice and snow

// Two-person show at PLU gallery examines an environment in state of flux

  • “Spill I” by Elise Richman (Photo Courtesy of Artist)

  • “Spill IV” by Elise Richman (Photo Courtesy of Artist)

  • “Cracked Prospect 3” by Cynthia Camlin (Photo By Dave R. Davison)

  • “Cracked Prospect I” by Cynthia Camlin (Photo By Dave R. Davison)

  • “Flux” by Elise Richman (Photo Courtesy of Artist)

The University Galley at Pacific Lutheran University is currently hosting a two-person show under the cumbersome moniker of “Each Form Overflows its Present.” The show consists of paintings by Elise Richman and Cynthia Camlin. Both artists are interested in the environmental state of flux that is taking place as a result of climate change. The viewer does not need to be privy to the stated concerns of the artists, however, in order to appreciate the cold, bold paintings that adorn the walls of the gallery.

For some while now, Camlin has been interested in glaciers and ice shelves. Her works offer a worm’s eye view (if a worm could survive in so chilly a place) of her subject. Her paintings are broken up into geometric forms done in cool colors. Some resemble layered ice cream sandwiches stuck in glass boxes and stacked atop one another. She uses the artist’s inner eye to imagine views down through the strata and the layers of ice where the secrets of the weather of past centuries are written.

If Camlin gives us the worm’s eye view, Richman provides the bird’s eye view. Richman is a spiller of paint. Her big canvases are the result of experiments in pouring various painterly concoctions, one over the other, and observing what might come about. Richman is all about process; though while she appears to work very methodically and scientifically, I suspect there is more play than work going on. She is possessed of a childlike curiosity of the type that wants to see what will happen if one spills one’s milk into a blob of ketchup. She is especially interested in layering oil-based media over water-based mixtures. “I’ve been combining oil, water and evaporation,” said Richman.

Concerned yet fascinated by the state of flux in the landscape as a result of global warming, Richman’s paintings are at once a metaphor for that process at the same time that they can be seen as a depiction of the land.

Both artists blur the boundary between the abstract and the figurative in their work. Richman’s works are predominantly blue (oh so very, very blue) and white with hints of pinks and purples. Combined with Camlin’s icy tones, the pair of painters manages to make the gallery feel as if one has entered an ice temple. So button up your coats and slip into your mittens and visit the PLU gallery to see the show.

“Each Form Overflows” runs through April 10. For further information visit


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