A drawing by Jessica DeFrenn, whose work is currently on display at the Shaw Gallery in Northeast Harbor. ISLANDER PHOTO BY NAN LINCOLN

DeFrenn’s drawings

MOUNT DESERT — There’s a deep, dark edge to artist Jessica DeFrenn’s work. Even when her subjects are classic Maine scenes and portraits there is something ominous lurking in those woods; an anxious glance or worried cast in the eyes of the weathered faces of her fisherman and a woodsman perhaps. A storm is gathering; danger lurks in the form of a gorgeously rendered crow with a sprig of blueberries in its beak.

In much of her work, which is now on display at the Shaw Gallery in Northeast Harbor, the darkness is not so subtle. Many of her black and white and colored ink drawings exhibited here tell a strange but compelling “Death and the Maiden” sort of tales in which beautiful nude women with exotic names are rescued or perhaps abducted, or both? By skeletal human or animal figures that seem to represent death. The scenes are at once troubling, erotic and weirdly beautiful.

DeFrenn is a Mount Desert Island High School graduate who went on to get her BFA at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She now lives on Swans Island and works at various jobs, as she hones her considerable artistic talents and explores her largely allegorical themes.

One can’t help wondering about the backstory of her drawings, and hoping that DeFrenn is also writer, who might one day share her dark tales in the form a graphic novel perhaps? An epic fantasy? Until then they are a fascinating glimpse into the mind of an artist as a young and extraordinarily interesting young woman.

Contact Shaw Gallery at 276-5000.

Nan Lincoln

Nan Lincoln

The former arts editor at the Bar Harbor Times writes reviews and feature stories for The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander.

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