I grew up attending Catholic School, going to church on Sunday and singing in the choir. I loved the ritual and grandeur of mass, the recitation of the responses, together, in unison, and the enthusiastic singing of the hymnals. Like most kids, I struggled to pay attention. My mind would wander as I stared at the stained-glass windows that dominated the four church walls of St. Francis of Assisi church, soaring skywards. The stained glass outlined by dark lead cane cast colorful shapes on the congregation, capturing my attention and leaving a deep impression. It reminded me of leaves and branches, back lit by the sun, when you lie on the grass and look up at the sky. The colored shapes reflected on the marble floor and wood pews were like the shadows of leaves dappling the grass under a tree. Both were (and still are) without-limit beautiful.
I am drawn to both the spiritual and the emotional quality of light filtering through branches and leaves. The transient quality of nature elicits a guttural feeling of melancholic longing. My work attempts to portray these fleeting moments in time – changing weather, light, and time of day. By capturing nature’s ephemerality, I hope to highlight the essential value of nature’s beauty to quality of life.
My most recent work is based on my visits to Otsego County, New York, and include both small, straight-forward, plein air paintings that reflect my interest in light and weather as well as larger, studio paintings that use mixed media materials to expand the boundaries of the central paintings. These materials include writings by Cooperstown natives, James Fenimore Cooper and Susan Fenimore Cooper, who wrote extensively about the New York wilderness and the connection between spirituality and nature.
-Melissa Borko Tevere, 2021