SOUTHWEST HARBOR— The Annual Women in History show at the Southwest Harbor Public Library is not only one of the first art exhibits of the new year, it is invariably one of the best. This year’s show, with a theme of “inspiration,” is no exception.
The participating women artists and artisans are exhibiting a broad range of media that includes painting, photography, fabric arts, collage and digital creations. Just as diverse were the women authors, poets, artists and activists whose lives and works inspired these pieces.
Environmental author Rachel Carson, whose books warn about the devastating effects of pesticides on our land and sea creatures, was well represented.
Sharon Stranger used polymer clay, glass, tissue, venetian blind cords, Q-tips and other unexpected materials to create a gorgeous, lush marine garden. Bianka Fuksman’s hooked rug depicting a honey bee names the chemicals that create colony collapse.
Terry Tempest Williams’ “When Women Were Birds” was the inspiration behind Roberta Sprague’s tissue collage “Tidal Pool,” which is as delicate and lovely as the natural feature it depicts.
Brenda Merritt’s “Birch” is as eloquent as the poem of the same name by Cynthia Zarin that inspired it.
Nicole Herz also tells the story of a tree, with her exquisite Japanese style woodblock, illustrating an enchanting poem by Norvi Bullock.
An oil painting by B. St. Marie-Nelson seems to have caught poet Enda St. Vincent Millay at the moment she was inspired to write her poem “Renascence.”
Maria Charette captured a moment of pure joy in a child’s face in her “Kerplash!”, based on a story by Jane W. Robinson about the rescue of a baby humpback whale.
The next time they republish Ruth Moore’s “Spoonhandle” about life on a tight little Maine island, Roxane Schere’s painting of a stoic little lobster boat would make a perfect cover.
Children’s author and illustrator Dahlov Ipcar inspired Mary Vekasi’s surprisingly haunting fabric art piece of bunnies dancing in the moonlight.
Rather fittingly, fabric and needle arts make up a good portion of the women’s works on display this year. Kathy McDonald’s “Long Legged Bird,” also inspired by Ipcar, manages to create the effect of feathers and riffled water with needle, thread and fabric; Nan Ulett’s “Cecily” perfectly recreates a Patricia Wynne image from my own book “Cecily’s Summer” with strips of colorful hooked wool.
Kate Henry’s intricate woven patches hint at the promise of a dark and complex tale told by author Cynthia Thayer.
Jeannie Schmidt is on the other end of the media spectrum with her computer-generated print of a perfect Julia Child Christmas dinner.
Photographer Sharon Arnold’s dark and evocative image of a woman in the forest suggests an alternative take on a classic myth.
Beth Herrick wrote that her ceramic tile “In the Bleak Midwinter” was inspired by a murder mystery of that title by Julia Spencer-Fleming, but it also could be an illustration for the beautiful Christmas carol by Christina Rossetti.
All this and more will be on display at the library through April.