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Gallery View: Landscapes re-imagined at Northampton Community College

Cindy Vojnovic’s solo exhibition, “From the Earth, Imaginary Landscapes,” of paintings on stoneware, continues through Oct. 5, Communications Hall Gallery, Northampton Community College, Bethlehem Township.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Northampton Community College Art Department and The East 40 Center for Place Based Learning at Northampton Community College.

“We call it the East 40 because it’s east of the main buildings here on the Green Pond Road campus and it’s roughly 40 acres,” says Northampton Community College East 40 Coordinator Kelly Allen.

Produce is harvested from community garden plots on the East 40 Gardens and Nature Area. Clay is harvested from the ground there. A pair of reduction fired pottery kilns is on-site.

Vojnovic began working on the series in summer 2022 during her tenure as NCC East 40 artist-in-residence.

“This is actually the last one of that I did out of the series,” says Vojnovic of “Imaginary Landscape No. 28” (2023; oil on stoneware, 16 in. x 22 in.). “It incorporated, I feel, a lot of the best from the entire series.”

Beginning with smaller pieces, Vojnovic experimented with clay, dyes and pigments.

“It took a whole summer of work to gather together a whole palette of color,” Vojnovic says.

She creates a dye bath from gathered plants, then processes the leftover color from the dye bath to make “lake pigment,” resulting in a solid pigment. She mixes this with linseed oil and paints the flattened stoneware.

Plants from which color was traditionally extracted include weld (Reseda luteola) for yellow, woad (Isatis tinctoria) for blue and madder (Rubia tinctorum) for red.

Vojnovic grinds dry cochineal insects, clay and rocks to create natural pigments. She makes some of her colors by roasting organic materials in a bonfire to create charcoal, burnt sienna and burnt umber. “Everything in here is made from just eight colors,” she says.

A ninth color, white, is the only purchased paint in the paintings in the exhibition, says Vojnovic.

While the works in the series are in oils, she has experimented with egg tempera, watercolor and pastels from the natural pigments.

When someone accidently broke in half her “Imaginary Landscape No. 19” (2023; oil on stoneware, 16.25 in. x 10.75 in.), she says, “I was thrilled.”

This inspired her to bind the pieces together as a diptych by weaving grapevines through the back of the pieces.

After that, Vojnovic deliberately broke some of the flattened clay to create works in the series, including “Imaginary Landscape No. 28.”

Her “Imaginary landscapes” are based on real landscapes she saw as she gathered materials for the series.

Vojnovic usually paints from observation and occasionally in abstract. This is her first series of painting oils on clay.

As an adjunct professor, Vojnovic teaches at Northampton Community College and East Stroudsburg University. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from the School for Visual Arts, New York City, and a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art from Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. Her studio is in Easton.

“From the Earth, Imaginary Landscapes,” through Oct. 5, Communications Hall Gallery, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem Township. Gallery hours: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, Closed weekends and holidays. Information: https://www.ncceast40.org/

“Gallery View” is a column about artists, exhibitions and galleries. To request coverage, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, pwillistein@tnonline.com

PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIER Cindy Vojnovic, “Imaginary Landscape No. 28” (2023; oil on stoneware, 16 in. x 22 in.), “From the Earth, Imaginary Landscapes,” Communications Hall Gallery, Northampton Community College, Bethlehem Township.