By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter
I love fine drawing, and Wanda Seamster uses wonderful materials and tremendous skill for effective communication through it. She makes note of the fact that, often, drawing is a preliminary step, rather than an art offering standing in its own right. She prefers to present the latter in her exhibits. It is something that delights me, as well, and I am thrilled to have a venue like the Gary L. Freeburg Gallery at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus that keeps bringing such solid work to this area.
Seamster works with a lot of ink on vellum and Mylar, and the effect is clean and warm. In “Ground Slump,” she has used a couple of slightly different pens on paper for some really subtle variation in the drawing of trees, root and rock. There is much attention to detail in the full tonal range, and an obvious love for the drawing media comes through.
Often she uses preprinted paper and draws right on top, generally for fanciful effect. In “Jack Sidecar,” a portrait of a dog is drawn on top of patterned papers that serve as the wall and the floor surface.
The show is an interesting mix of silly and severely serious, from Leonardo da Vinci with a frog on his head, to brushed graphite drawings of the Kennedy assassination, as well as the Buddhist monk who set himself on fire in the same era. In either case, it is clear that the artist takes drawing quite seriously.
My favorite piece has got to be, “If I Cannot Fly.” My guess is the title references a quote by writer Stephen Sondheim in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street:” “If I cannot fly, let me sing.”
I don’t think I’ve been as mesmerized by drawing, looking at this piece, since William Allen’s amazing posthumous exhibit last year. Almost every bit of the surface has been attended to, though she has left flawless areas of negative space between the subjects. There is an amazing amount of emotion evident in both the human subject’s eyes and the feathered beast’s. Patterns and lines converge to tell a story that feels like mythology and feels like truth. The birds-nest hat is so impeccably rendered it is difficult to look away, the eye wanting to linger there for purely selfish reasons.
Seamster’s drawings will be on exhibit at KPC until Dec. 10.
Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works gallery in Soldotna. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.