“Irene Lawrence: Paintings, Are You Falling or Flying” is the newest series on exhibit at the University of Rhode Island’s Fine Arts Center, consisting of abstract paintings.
The series, created by abstract artist and printmaker, Irene Lawrence, is part of the final exhibit of the season and are on display and open to the public until Dec. 11.
Lawrence, a Long Island native, is a Rhode Island School of Design graduate and has been painting for most of her life. Originally painting landscapes and more realistic works, she developed an interest for abstract art, noticing that she was drawn to the space and background of art, rather than the actual content of a painting. She said some of the paintings in this exhibit reflect this appreciation.
“I realized I wasn’t interested in the subject matter at all,” Lawrence said. “I was interested in the strength of the spaces between the so called objects in the painting, like a horse or a man sitting on a horse or a landscape in the background. That specificity didn’t interest me, it was the way the color shape met the edge of the canvas.”
This exhibit contains both older and newer paintings created by Lawrence, giving a sense of the artist’s growth, as well as demonstrating the contrasting features between the works. In her earlier abstract works, Lawrence avoided color, only working with black and various shades of white. Describing her inspiration for some of these older paintings, Lawrence explained that while working at her previous job, she was inspired by what she saw.
Lawrence explained how she worked at the Brown University High Energy Physics Department for ten years as a scanner. While there, she was trained to look for specific interactions of high-energy particles that were photographed from three varying points of view.
“These little particles hovering in there, how do you know which way they are going and why?” Lawrence asked. “Everything that you look at is broken up that way but we can’t see it. So how to express that sense of energy really interested me.”
Lawrence later described her inspiration for switching up her style, stating that after a few years she became “hungry for color”. She continued by discussing how she wanted to make a change, and was again influenced by the energy and space of art.
“I finally came to a closure after working on these kinds of images,” Lawrence said. “I needed to move on and the simplest way was to do the opposite, which was to have broken shapes that go either coming in on the canvas or coming out of the canvas, and suspended in the space.”
Lawrence’s most recent paintings are also featured throughout the Art Exhibit in URI’s Fine Arts Center. The exhibit is open to the public Monday through Friday until Dec. 11, from noon to 4 p.m.