Lynne Riding assures me she won’t look at my response. But I’m still nervous about answering her question, especially since the artist and creator is standing about 8 feet from me. But I take a deep breath and write my answer on a slip of paper along with my age and toss it into a carefully chosen vessel: What does Concerning Being mean to you at this moment?
“Some of the comments are so thoughtful,” Riding says. “And some are so touching they make you cry.” She shares a few responses with me from the slips of paper she picks up. The answers are anonymous and Riding plans to document the responses in a slide presentation during the exhibit, but I still feel like I’m glimpsing a vulnerable piece of someone’s life. Then I look around the room at Riding’s work and realize that we share all of our significant life events: birth, death, memory and being.
“The show relates to living and how we’re experiencing what is out there,” Riding says. “It’s like trying to see the beauty through the pathos.”
The exhibit, “The Pulse Beneath the Surface,” is both a remarkable and beautiful show; a show that exudes tragedy and hope and ultimately catharsis. A few pieces are inspired by Riding’s family members — her mother, father, and a younger sister who passed away at age 35 — but even her personal art connects on a broader level. Our shared experiences might not be the same, but we all walk similar paths. And Riding finds commonality in the materials that surround us in the places where we reside.
“I try to incorporate a sense of place and a sense of being into my work,” Riding says. “I like to work intuitively and use elements from the places where I work. When I’m there on site (working), I’m observing; it is part of a connection between the brain, the hand, and the heart in one motion.”
Some of those elements from the places where she works include rock tracings from a beach, ash from her mother’s garden and dirt from under a slave cabin at Magnolia Plantation.
Riding’s work has a simplistic quality about it that is attractive and mesmerizing. (“Line is my first love, really” she tells me.) And she is the type of artist who can wring meaning out of two or three lines of black ink on a white canvas — “quiet space” as she calls it. “It’s a stillness amidst all the energy,” she says.
“The Pulse Beneath the Surface” is an exhibit that thrives on energy and it digs deep, past the top layer of prettiness and into a heavier, more esoteric realm.
“That’s what I love,” Riding says. “Some people will look at my work and think, ‘Oh, that’s so pretty,’ but then they see a wire or something else; a heavier underlying current than the prettiness that might be on the surface.”
The underlying realm, just past the surface, is where the most interesting parts are sitting, waiting to be discovered. Riding is working to uncover them.
What: The Pulse Beneath the Surface by Lynne Riding
Where: Redux Contemporary Art Studio
When: On display through Jan. 30; the artist will be speaking on Jan. 16