Debra Holt’s new images from a recent photo trip to the Hawaiian Islands are on view through June 9, 2010. Holt’s “keenness for the earth’s natural elements and its atmospheric changes” bears out in these meditative portrayals of naturally occurring phenomena – phenomena we take for granted, but appreciate anew when our attention is directed at once into and around them by the kind of intensity an artist like Holt brings to the task of seeing. There is a very particular kind of “mindfulness” at work here: instead of disappearing, the subject burgeons – transforming, to be sure, but becoming ever more present, almost iconic, its volume both obdurate and embracing, its space intimate and infinite at once. Holt’s is a Western kind of transcendence, more Gnostic than Zen; it has mystical resonance, but apotheosizes rather than obscures the object of contemplation. At best, the viewer becomes one with the viewed, not with the unviewable. Holt does not simply privilege the eye, but relies with a fervency unusual even for a visual artist on the human propensity for looking, rewarding our gaze with apparitions of dreamlike proportions and impossible, but suddenly real, sensuality. Hers are realizations of a peculiarly optical ecstasy, not merely lovely or desirable, but so irresistibly alluring that the pleasure is instantaneous and surrender takes place at the moment seduction begins. “I am nature,” Jackson Pollock once protested, trying to convince his interlocutor that, as a human being, he was not outside nature looking in but inside nature looking all around. If anyone’s art now drives home that point, Holt’s does. Her works, most recently – and vividly – her photographs, show us nature from the inside – and pull us back into nature before we can give it a second thought. In Debra Holt’s art, we are one with nature. Written by Peter Frank, Art Critic and Curator
A native South Florida artist, Debra Holt was born in West Palm Beach, and grew up in Miami, Florida. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Florida International University, she moved to New York and received a Masters of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. After graduation, Holt’s worldwide travel experiences have influenced the rich development of unique and creative artistic expressions. Her works have been shown in solo and group exhibitions including Florida, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Debra Holt’s solo The Pulse of Nature was recently exhibited at Photo LA 2011. She was one of four featured artists selected by the Photo Miami’s 2009curatorial committee for the special projects room. A large scale Video Installation Living Water was presented at the fair. She is the recipient of many awards and grants including the National Sculpture Society Grant, The Nancy McGrath Award, Lucrezia Bori Foundation Prize, Albert H. Hallgarten Traveling Fellowship, and the Artist’s Fellowship Grant.