The Space Between features new work by Laura Berman and Kim Eichler-Messmer. Colleagues at the Kansas City Art Institute, both artists are exhibiting works on paper that relate to the Kansas landscape and how we live within and upon it.
Laura Berman traces her love of bold colors and patterns to her native Barcelona, Spain. Vivid colors and delineated but interrelating forms have been emblematic of her work for several years—a period in which Laura has been making monoprints with a high degree of uniformity in process and a great diversity of effect in the resulting images.
In these new watercolors, Laura breaks with her preferred process without deviating from her aesthetic path. Her genius for color, transparency, and formal relationships take on new meaning under the spontaneity of watercolor. Time and space, she says, are progressive in these images. Shapes and lines cascade and collide to create new forms. The paintings are made in layers which build and reflect on each other, telling the story of how even the smallest actions can create a lasting effect over time.
As in some of her recent monoprints, the Flint Hills—with their subtle, undulating stratifications—directly influence this work. The great expanse of the prairie inspires exploration of distance, timelessness and the ever-changing sky. In 2014, Laura and her husband, Chris, opened Prairieside Cottage and Outpost, a family-friendly artist retreat in Matfield Green.
Kim Eichler-Messmer’s watercolors also represent a departure from her primary medium. Born in Iowa, Kim learned to sew in the fifth grade when she and her father made a quilt out of their old shirts. Eventually she found her way back to textiles and has since created a large and impressive body of experimental quilts. Her technique is systematic and meticulous, and her understanding and control over color and composition show that, in her hands, the quilt is an ascendant art form. Her book, Modern Color: An Illustrative Guide to Dying Fabric for Modern Quilt, was published in 2014.
In her abstract landscape quilts, Kim works to capture “the quality of light, weather patterns, and dramatic skies particular to the American Midwest.” These new watercolors represent a further exploration of the prairie—it’s structures, systems, and pathways, both real and imagined. They look for meaning in the dwellings of the insects and animals, the buildings humans have built and abandoned, and how one can exist in the expanse of grass and sky.