Fran Hardy’s solo exhibition explores how the ancient inspires the contemporary as well as blurring the boundaries between realism and abstraction. Ancient trees and primordial plants provide symbolism and fertile material for her works as well as symbols that emerge from the abstract ‘ooze’ with references from ancient cultures such as sacred math, petroglyphs and textiles.
Her drawings and paintings of trees, are part of a lifelong preoccupation that centers around very elaborate, otherworldly large scale drawings and their interpretation into paintings which hover between abstraction and realism. She begins with drawings of trees in pencil and graphite on panel that writhe with an unearthly intensity and from which imagery will unconsciously emerge in the midst of the tapestry of fine lines as she draws. The viewer is engaged as the longer they look images that reflect their own imaginings come to mind out of the meticulous detail.
The realistic element in these detailed drawings is then juxtaposed into the paintings with abstract compositions rendered in a variety of media from oil pastel over watercolor sgraffito as well as graphite and acrylic. Scratching into the copper plates in her intaglio printmaking has inspired the oil pastel over watercolor paintings where she scribes through the layers of oil pastel to reveal the watercolor and acrylic grounds below and render the elaborate drawings of her paintings with their abstract and realist underpinnings. She often uses mirror images to create a Rorschach-like mystery open to the viewer’s interpretation
Her paintings and drawings of trees talk about what we can lose if we do not preserve our ancient forests both ecologically as they maintain water and stabilize temperature as well as their spiritual contribution with a connection to all of the history that has passed below their spreading branches.
Madelon Sheedy, Curator at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art who gave her the first of her six solo museum shows has said of her work ”It is obvious that Fran Hardy paints what interests and inspires her, emphasizing the interplay between light and dark and forcing us to look at, rather than into or through the commonplace. The elegance in her work heightens the importance of the ephemeral and makes it timeless.”
Ms Hardy studied at the School of Visual Arts and Parsons School of Design in NYC as well as receiving bachelor and masters degrees in art education at Kutztown University and Temple University. She received a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship and has had six solo museum exhibitions one of which was a 15 Year Retrospective. She is represented in NYC by a Madison Avenue gallery, several galleries in Florida and Evoke Contemporary in Santa Fe. ”Fran Hardy, In a Brilliant Light” a documentary about her work aired on Orlando PBS, WMFE-TV in conjunction with her traveling show of the same name across the state of Florida in 2001.A recent traveling show entitled “Pentimento” traveled to museums across the country. Her work is in museum collections nationwide. In 2004, she and her husband moved to New Mexico near the rural town of Lamy about twenty minutes from Santa Fe where her fusion of abstraction and realism was born in a bold move from her previous work. Select PBS stations have aired and FEC/PAEC-TV, international educational station continues to air a new documentary on her work, “Pentimento , The Artist’s Process” which focuses on her work and process in her new and innovative New Mexico inspired work.