Daily Art Moment: Rita Robillard

Coastal Range, Rita Robillard, 36 x 87 inches, screen print and acrylic on panel. A horizontal rectangular work showing a stand of evergreen trees in various shades of green against a background of golden tan. The trees are clustered and overlapped but still show individual branches silhouetted against each other. Deep blue-green, grass green, brownish olive hues layer over the golden tan background. There are 5 vertical lines spaced evenly left to right and indicate the separate panels that comprise the work.

Coastal Range was made during Robillard’s residency at Sitka Center in 2013. There the artist worked with scientists studying the Cascade Head Experimental Forest, a Forest Service land that was set aside in 1934 for the study of the forest and its ecosystem. In ‘Coastal Range,’ Robillard evokes Eastern and Western pictorial traditions while deliberately pairing the process of paint and print. Honoring the individuality of trees while revealing their collective, monumental presence, a mixed forest of Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, and Sitka Spruce are combined with enlarged etchings of trees depicted from vintage books in the artist’s collection. As this region has recently experienced some of the most devastating wildfires, it is impossible to think of climate change as a quiet crisis, but one of dramatic and abrupt impact. Some questions come to mind as I reflect on this work and on this time: What is our relationship to the forest? How can we better understand its greater ecology? How utterly beautiful are these trees? On reflecting on this work, Robillard recalls of the trees, ‘They are pillars and graceful sentries, central to this region’s history and beauty.’ “

Grace Kook-Anderson, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art

Rita Robillard (American, born 1944). Coastal Range, 2012. Screenprint and acrylic on panel. Gift of the artist in honor of Sue Taylor, Ph.D., 2017.96.2 © Rita Robillard

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