Drawing with Seaweed
January 18 - March 4
Opening Reception: January 19, 5-7 P.M.
Artist Talk: February 4, 3 P.M.
On display at Maine Media's Portland gallery PhoPa!
Celeste Roberge was born in Maine and received her art education at the Maine College of Art, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She is Professor Emerita, after twenty-two years as Head of Sculpture, at the School of Art + Art History, College of the Arts, University of Florida. She maintains a studio in South Portland, Maine. This exhibition presents a variety of Celeste's newest explorations with seaweed on paper, ranging from mixed media compositions incorporating seaweed, fabric and photographs to cyanotype impressions of collected seaweed.
Celeste's fascination with seaweed began in 2008 when, while walking along Hirtle’s Beach on the south shore of Nova Scotia, she found a type of seaweed perforated with numerous small holes of different sizes. It came in various shades of amber and brown. At first she thought it was kelp in a state of decay, worm-eaten perhaps, however the holes were too numerous, too consistent, and too beautiful. Celeste later learned that the seaweed went by various names: Agarum clathratum, Agarum cribosum, sea colander, sea lace, shotgun kelp, and devil’s apron. Those names alone were enough to set her imagination in motion. Agarum clathratum is not plentiful on southern Maine beaches because it grows at a depth of 150 feet and only washes ashore as beachcast after storms. Traveling to Nova Scotia to collect the beached seaweeds became an annual ritual assisted by residencies at MECA sponsored artist residencies on the French Acadian shore.
Though the sea lace is fascinating in form and material, at first she could not think how to transform it into a sculpture. After observing gatherers of seaweed along the shores of Nova Scotia in their flat-bottomed boats laden with rockweed, she thought why not a boat, a seaweed boat; better yet, a seaweed boat that cannot float because it is riddled with holes, a boat that resembles a seaweed, a seaweed that resembles a boat. Celeste began making sculptures of seaweed boats in wax, bronze, cast iron and brass, and in the seaweed itself. She studied the science of seaweed further, learning to identify various types, and soon began pushing wet seaweed around on wet paper. She says, "the more I manipulated the seaweed, the more I saw relationships with similar concerns in earlier art works and analogies to design and technology in fabrics and metals. I was smitten."