Monoprint series, from top: remembering (2); somewhere over (18); turning (2). Photo below: courtsey of Pele Prints.
Sarah Hinckley's Monoprints—by Laura C. Mallonee
Cape Cod has long been a muse to artists. The thin curl of land jutting out from modern-day eastern Massachusetts was formed thousands of years ago by a melting glacier, and it later became the first strip of Western earth on which the Pilgrims set foot. These mythic ties, along with the dramatic beauty of its 10-foot tides, have imbued it with mystery. Each summer, painters flock to its beaches, easels in tow, to capture its color and light.
“...her work springs from early impressions of sand meeting ocean meeting sky.”
The New York-based artist Sarah Hinckley grew up down the street from the Bay of Cape Cod, and her work springs from early impressions of sand meeting ocean meeting sky. Unlike the realistic landscapes that fill local galleries, Hinckley's abstract works evoke the place without directly referencing it; their forms and color palette suggest, but never describe. For this reason, they feel closer in spirit to the nature poetry of Cape Cod writers like Mary Oliver. You might even call them visual poems.
The development of this style over the past four decades has been a slow, thoughtful, and intuitive process. Hinckley started out creating simple, flat color fields informed by the work of Mark Rothko and Agnes Martin, the artistic giants of her youth. But as the young artist came into her own, the colors separated into bands, and layers of organic shapes began filling the frame. She has continued exploring these forms in her collaboration with St. Louis's Pele Prints, her first serious foray into printmaking.
The three resulting monoprint series–titled remembering, somewhere over, and turning–encourage you to abandon a critical posture, empty your mind, and embrace the quiet of the Massachusetts promontory. Each reflects a unique aspect of the land. The four vacillating bands of cool blues and green-golds in the series turning recall the ocean at dusk. somewhere over contains the champagne, amber, and sunrise-orange hues of sand, shells and cliffs. In remembering, neutral sage, sap green and slate gray conjure the cape's lesser-known inland ponds and forests. A horizon line anchors each image—sometimes shifting, dimming and disappearing as each new layer is added. Shapes emerge and change: the curve of a petal becomes the scalloped edge of a cloud, the setting sun morphs into a distant, silhouetted island.
Meditating on them, your own breath begins to mimic the waves rising and falling calmly on the shore. Hinckley's prints carry you to a tranquil place, where you are able, as Oliver once wrote, "to float a little above this difficult world."
—Laura C. Mallonee, for the Pele Prints catalog. Laura is a New York-based arts writer and editor.