PIA DEGIROLAMO

During the past several years I have been traveling in mountainous regions and places with dramatic geological formations. I love being in these places. The key word in that sentence is "being". All the senses are engaged as I pocket smooth stones, sketch a mountain, smell the thyme and clover, taste the tartness of wild plants and listen alternatively to the sounds of nature as well as its silence. When I go hiking and climbing, exhilaration arises both from the physical effort as well as from acknowledging fear and overcoming it. The body hums with the energy of exertion and alertness. I do not challenge nature, rather I challenge myself.

In the studio, I began exploring what made these mountainous places beautiful and mysterious to me and embarked on an ongoing series of paintings in which massive forms, the surrounding emptiness, and the sense of gravity dictated how I used color and shape. The raw and elemental sculptural forms of nature that seem to stand immutably also embody the unseen forces that have created them, and are also continually reshaping them. Nothing is static here and time flows on, albeit at mountain speed, rather than human speed.

The sense of being in the moment and acknowledging the physicality of the act of painting is a touchstone that informs my studio practice, and thus mirrors my experience of being in the outdoors. I work from memory, referring occasionally to my travel sketchbook, photographs, and smaller preparatory sketches to guide the creation of the painting. Though I may start with a general direction I leave myself open to big changes as I paint, much like planning a route ahead of time through a wild place and having to revise and reroute as unexpected obstacles arise. I leave room for chance and intuition to enter into the process. The paintings evolve, and while some refer to real places, others spring from composite memories of shapes or vistas.  All are a record of what is for me of the essence in these landscapes, whether they are in Iceland, the Canadian Rockies, or the American Southwest.

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