There's an aspect of anticipation when seeing Darlene Charneco and her art at the Southampton Arts Center (SAC) in Southampton Village, NY. A large wooden panel with bent nails sits on a stretch of floor. Nearby, a table contains more canvases: some are works in progress while others are completed. Installed on the wall are artworks from various series Charneco is known for. On the floor is a hammer. The question is: When will Charneco begin adding nail after nail to the panel; each action mingling a prayer with the strike on the nail?
If you would ask Darlene, it's likely the question would be met with a smile. After all, who knows when the time might be right? There is much mind work that leads up to the making of her paintings that co-mingle "mapping" of specific areas or buildings as they have appeared in the past with the way they present now and the impact they've had on the communities where they are located.
It's an intellectual bender to contemplate but one that Charneco is completely at home with. Making connections across time, place and the impact on people's lives and translating into visual art is her wheelhouse.
In fact, conversations taking place around her while in residence at SAC are already finding their way into her art, she said. So are direct dialogues between the artist and inquiring visitors. The more subtle experience of spending extensive time in the building that formerly housed the Parrish Art Museum building and its current incarnation as an art and culture experience purveyor as SAC is also seeping into her mapping, she said.
Mapping—the way Charneco connects past and present and the impact on neighborhoods and their residents—morphs into a combined timeline that manifests into a single artwork. This process is an underpinning of much of her abstract artwork.
There are several distinct series on view at SAC. Charneco's studio space feels as if it's part exhibition, part hang out space and part work space with easy flow from one space to the next. Viewers can expect to find four distinct but connected series. All make use of abstraction and conceptual intention.
There are resin-drenched mapping paintings that depict towns in her "Petri Playground" works (including Hamptons walking towns of Sag Harbor, Southampton and others); resin paintings from her "Self-Assembling Memory Palace" which applied mapping to communities, people, networks and the ways specific memories play into the larger dynamic.
Pounded nail paintings are part of Charneco's "Prayer & Weaving" series. The "Perception" series combines a bit of both with single nails and abstract paintings with resin adopting a sense of quiet. Like the "Prayer & Weaving" paintings where each nail represents a prayer or thought or intention, the nails in the "Perception" series can represent a single word or even a moments of silently waiting.
At SAC, visitors can become part of the art by writing down a prayer and adding it to a bowl where Charneco integrates into her weaving painting process. She also taught a class on mapping to connect participates closer to her art process (as well as how they can do it for their own creative endeavors).
While visiting with Charneco, visitor conversations where plentiful with much intrigue to be found in her studio space. People seemed equally engaged and wanted to know more about her work and her process and the ways the series of works connect with each other. Being around other artists and conversing about each other's work or art in general has also been inspiring, she said.
"This has been an amazing experience and opportunity," she said. "We get to connect with other artists and share the art making process with people who maybe wouldn't necessarily have gone to a gallery to see art. It's been inspiring all around."
BASIC FACTS: "TAKEOVER! Artists in Residence" is on view February 9 to April 14, 2019 at the Southampton Arts Center, 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton, NY 11968. Click here to discover more about the exhibition.
05/03/19 EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to reflect the fact that Charneco works on wooden panel and not canvas as originally published.
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