Local artist and TCU faculty member Harmony Padgett, who uses wooden panels to create active abstractions, could possibly be mistaken for a carpenter due to her fascination with woodwork—a carpenter who can create intricate work that’s both beautiful and provocative. See her unique explorations of movement at the William Campbell Contemporary Art Gallery, where she will have a show with artist Jeff Mueller, March 24 – April 28, 2012.
The artist recently answered questions from CBSDFW.com about her exhibition, Ravel, her relationship with woodwork and how she’s giving back to TCU.
CBSDFW.com: When did your fascination with woodwork begin and when did you decide to take it to a professional level?
Harmony Padgett: I began working with wood in 1997, in undergraduate school. I was immediately attracted to the resilience and strength of the material as well as its natural beauty and what I interpret as characteristic of individuality, not unlike a fingerprint. I take great care in choosing the pieces of wood that I work with. My relationship with wood is not without its conflicts, however. It is an ever-changing and evolving material. It responds to weather, time and in turn, I have to react to its limitations and test the boundaries of what it can do. I truly enjoy calling attention to the beauty, perhaps overlooked, in such a simple, elegant, natural material.
CBSDFW.com: Can you tell us about your show at the William Campbell Contemporary Art Gallery? How did the two person show come about, and how will it differ from your past shows?
Harmony Padgett: The show at William Campbell Contemporary Art is called Ravel, with Jeff Mueller. The gallery paired our work because it is somewhat unique in its approach to creating abstractions. I think the similarities and contrasts between our styles will create an energetic air in the gallery. The title of the show relates to the concept of contradiction and complexity. The word itself is somewhat abstract; it is both a synonym and antonym to unravel. Line, and its formal qualities, is an important element in my work. Representation of forms in nature (plants and insects), the human body, and patterns in the wood grain can be found and lost in my paintings. Jeff photographs graffiti he finds in public places, often reproducing it literally, and often scrambling the word phrases by overlaying the phrase over itself, often multiple times. This show will differ from other shows due to the interplay that happens when artwork from different artists are shown together. The work will be in direct conversation with each other.
CBSDFW.com: You’ve said that you’re interested in exploring the relationship between what is real and what is perceived to be real. Do you find an answer through your art or is it a continuing conversation in each new piece you produce?
Harmony Padgett: I feel that what is real and what is perceived to be real varies greatly and changes constantly. There is a sense of ambiguity that I foster in my work. I am purposeful in the open-ended nature of the imagery, or lack there of. I combine and overlap elements in order to abstract their true identity. I am a very detail oriented person, so every nuance and subtle change catches my attention. Focusing on the details of a subject starts to create a new abstract and obscure object of its own. In that way, I feel as though awareness is an important aspect of art, as well as everyday life.
CBSDFW.com: Seeing as you received your MFA from TCU last year and are currently an adjunct faculty member, can you tell us a little bit about the student/teacher dynamic you’ve experienced and how that influences your art?
Harmony Padgett: It is really exciting to get to work with art students at TCU. It is an important time in their lives for artistic experimentation and discovery of their own style and interests. I try to encourage my students to involve art in every aspect of their lives and to take notice of what is going on around them and use that to inform their own work. The momentum of getting an MFA in painting, and encouraging students to take risks has helped keep me in the mindset of taking risks and challenging myself to seek new inspiration where ever I might find it.
CBSDFW.com: What do you think about the local art scene in DFW? Is there a large contrast in flourishing art between Fort Worth and Dallas?
Harmony Padgett: I have a great appreciation of the art scene in DFW. I think that the differences between what Fort Worth and Dallas have to offer is what makes it so diverse, as well as accessible. There are great artists and impressive venues (museums, galleries, university programs) across the Metroplex, and to be in such a close proximity to take advantage of all of it is really exciting and unique.
William Campbell Contemporary Art
4935 Byers Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76107
Hours: Tue to Fri 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. and by appointment