BankRI Galleries Presents
“Taking Flight: Watercolors and Pastels by Holly Wach,”
March 1 through April 5, 2017
at the BankRI Turks Head branch in downtown Providence at One Turks Head Place.
There will be a Gallery Night reception on March 16 from 5 to 8:30 pm with light refreshments and guitar music by Mark Armstrong.
MEET THE ARTIST – HOLLY WACH
“The lions appeared in graduate school,” said Providence artist Holly Wach.
They stood proudly in charcoal drawings, lay languid in pastels and stared out at the viewer in paintings. And almost always, the lions were paired with a quiet woman who radiated inner strength.
Like many young artists, Wach was a talented, hard-working art star in her own home town of Stuart, Florida. But college levels the playing field. Studying at the New York Academy of Fine Arts for her master’s degree, Wach found herself blindsided by the sheer talent around her. “I was completely unprepared by the level of artistry,” Wach says. “I wanted to be challenged and pushed, but I didn’t know how to navigate that world.”
The museums and galleries of New York showed her artwork far beyond anything she had seen before. Graduate school challenged her skills and pushed her to her limits.
“I felt insecure, unprepared and like I was going to break” Wach explains. “Through that struggle the lions appeared giving me a powerful voice I hadn’t seen in my art before.”
The lions gave her the courage to try new things, to put herself in uncomfortable situations, and mostly, to make art the way she wanted.
After graduate school, Wach found herself juggling her art career with a mountain of student loans. “I panicked,” Wach says. I threw myself into work bartending and managing a multi-million dollar bar. I kept my art on life support taking classes at the Art Students League and New York Studio School.”
In a few years, she made enough money to pay off the loans and put some away for a move to the West Coast. There she worked seriously painting, exhibiting, managing an arts education program for Oakland schools and reconnecting with nature.
In 2015 she moved to Rhode Island with her partner and their 5 year-old daughter to be nearer to family. Wach likes Rhode Island, but finds the state’s economy “challenging.” On the plus side, Rhode Island has proved to be a much more affordable than many of the previous cities she has lived. On the negative side, traditional jobs are hard to come by. Instead Wach has found the people and resources in Rhode Island perfect for helping her do something she has always wanted to do – create her very own art business.
Wach is a figurative artist working in charcoal, watercolor, pastel and oils. What Wach seeks to capture is not just a physical likeness, but an emotional one. The series on women and lions has a sensual, emotive power that sidesteps reality in favor of illustrating a state of mind. The birds and butterflies are quieter, more contemplative, but they too stress a watchfulness beyond mere physicality. In her artwork, Wach embraces the sensuality of all living things and the “paradox of vulnerability and strength.”
The BankRI Galleries are curated by Paula Martiesian, a Providence-based artist and arts advocate.