Art Seen: Treasured travels — World journeys fuel artwork of retired couple

“Fish Camp,” photograph taken in Papua New Guinea by Ralph Van Dusseldorp.

“Fish Camp,” photograph taken in Papua New Guinea by Ralph Van Dusseldorp.

By Natasha Ala, for the Redoubt Reporter

Currently on exhibit at the Kenai Fine Arts Center, in Gallery Too, is an exhibit of fiber art and photography by retired traveling partners Marilyn Kay Johnson and Ralph Van Dusseldorp. After spending a combined total of 60 years teaching, the duo decided to spend their retirement years traveling and pursuing their lifelong passion for art.

“Travelers Path,” completed over several decades on several trips to Africa, by Marilyn Kay Johnson.

“Travelers Path,” completed over several decades on several trips to Africa, by Marilyn Kay Johnson.

The artwork is displayed by geographic region where the artwork was created — Africa, Alaska, South America and the South Pacific. The artists are inspired by the natural beauty of the different regions they visited — most notably the people, wildlife and birds of these different provinces.

As self-proclaimed avid birders, Johnson and Van Dusseldorp have captured delightful images of fowl from all corners of the world. Ornithologists in the community will certainly want to see the variety of specimens Johnson and Van Dusseldrop have checked off their birders’ life lists.

Johnson has created several quilted fiber pieces on exhibit, which reflect cultural elements inspired by the different countries she visited.

“Kuna Ladies” photograph by Ralph Van Dusseldorp, taken in the San Blas Islands, Panama

“Kuna Ladies” photograph by Ralph Van Dusseldorp, taken in the San Blas Islands, Panama.

“I have sewn from an early age, first clothing and later traditional bed quilts, and more recently art quilts. I only do bed quilts now by commission, but I almost always have a sewing project going which accompanies me on travels. My work has become smaller and more abstract in recent years. Art now consumes a lot of my time — either dreaming, playing with fabric or actual execution. I love retirement,” says Johnson of her fiber work in her artist’s statement.

Johnson and Van Dusseldorp are certainly

“On Thin Ice: A Climate Change Story,” by Marilyn Kay Johnson.

“On Thin Ice: A Climate Change Story,” by Marilyn Kay Johnson.

not letting retirement slow them down as they have traveled the world and prolifically created beautiful pieces of art inspired by their travels. Their exhibit is an enchanting opportunity to experience the international flavors of the world as seen through their eyes and interpreted through their creations.

Johnson and Van Dusseldorp’s exhibit will be on display at the Kenai Fine Arts Center, 816 Cook St., in Old Town Kenai, through August. For more information, call 283- 7040.

Natasha Ala is a contributing writer and local art champion who lives in Soldotna.

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