BankRI Turks Head Gallery
“Transformations in Tape by Ann-Marie Gillett,”
September 1 through October 5, 2016 at the BankRI Turks Head branch in Downtown Providence at One Turks Head Place.
There will be a Gallery Night reception on September 15 from 5 to 8:30 pm with live music by guitarist Mark Armstrong and light refreshments.
MEET THE ARTIST – ANN-MARIE GILLETT
It wasn’t a very promising beginning. The young girl sat quietly in art class as a stern woman held up a picture. The children were asked to duplicate the image and the child who came closest was deemed “the best.” That was the extent of the early childhood art education of Ann-Marie Gillett.
Gillett was not content with copying other people’s artwork. “Even as a young kid,” Gillett says “I “felt compelled to make things with my hands.” She grew up with a love of making things and a love of teaching.
After graduating from Rhode Island College with a degree in art education, Gillett taught for three years in the Attleboro public schools. She took a break to raise a family and went on to teach at Wheeler School. After a thirty-year career at Wheeler, Gillett retired last year eager to devote all her considerable energy to making art.
Gillett, a Rhode Island native, now lives in Seekonk, Massachusetts in a rural corner of suburbia. Birds build nests in the doorways, deer and wild turkey wander through the yard and all manner of creatures are neighborhood friends. Nature practically spills onto the threshold.
It’s nature that informs Gillett’s work, but it is her method of working that best defines her.
Originally a fiber artist, she began working with the batiking process on gourds she grew in her garden. Normally in batik, wax is used to create images and patterns. The parts of the fabric that are waxed resist the dye; the parts that are left unwaxed absorb it.
On the gourds, Gillett substituted tape for the wax. When she removed the tape from the gourds, she didn’t throw it away. “I was pulling off all these red triangles from the gourds,” Gillett explains “and my leg would be covered with little pieces of tape. The tape was still tacky and I thought, why can’t I put these pieces of tape on paper?”
Today Gillett paints the tape different colors, cuts it into a multitude of shapes and lines and uses it to create her intricate and lyrical drawings. She can cut a piece of tape as thin as a single hair.
At the moment, Gillett is working on two different themes – gravity and nests. The Gravity series is inspired by the life cycle of the garden. “Eventually vibrant plants wither, droop and drop to the ground,” Gillett explains. “Aging is a force of gravity that pulls on us.” These line drawings are abstracted images of what Gillett imagines gravity to look like.
The Nest series features more realistic interpretations of birds’ nests. Like the birds that build their nests twig by twig, Gillett uses hundreds of delicately cut pieces of tape to build hers. The complexity of the nest is a contrast to the quiet, serene environment of the backdrop.
“This has been the busiest year,” Gillett says reflectively. “Now I can get up in the morning and make my own work. That’s my job and that’s a privilege.”
The BankRI Galleries are curated by Paula Martiesian, a Providence-based artist and arts advocate.