Crows seem to flock around Carol MacDonald’s artist studio, perching above doorways and tugging at balls of yarn.
Something about their mischievous nature captivated MacDonald when she was a young artist, and they’ve been flying in and out of her artwork ever since—despite two dimensional wings.
“There’s a wholeness to them,” she said. Dark and ominous, yet with a sense of humor.
The Colchester-based printmaker sees her work as a tool to create “diverse conversations in these politically charged times.” Yet they are not overtly political, nor negative. Rather, the crows add both a sense of whimsy and realism in such a way that delivers a hopeful message.
One print depicts a group of crows picking up a piece of string together—a common thread. Another depicts a large eagle bowing to a crow half its size.
Much of her other work, which experiments with texture and fiber arts, showcases a more nostalgic, personal side.
Part of MacDonald’s focus on knitting and fiber arts comes from a fascination with working with her hands, and partly from nostalgia. She remembers holding a skein of yarn for hours while her mother made balls of yarn. Her most recent project incorporates this feeling of nostalgia while also showcasing her love of Vermont.
MacDonald enjoys the repetition of printmaking and the ability to use her hands. “Knitting, swimming laps, working with your hands—it grounds us,” said MacDonald. One print is of an etching she made examining up-close the intricacies of different stitches—purl, stockinette, netted, garter.
Another shows how MacDonald experiments with texture, by running a knit piece through her printing press covered in ink.
At her current show on display at the Southern Vermont Art Center, MacDonald showcases this new look at fiber arts while incorporating her love of Vermont. The exhibit’s theme is, “Contemporary American Regionalism: Vermont Perspectives,” and showcases a host of Vermont artists, including MacDonald.
“What is it about Vermont that holds me here?” MacDonald asked herself when coming up with the inspiration for her pieces. Ultimately, MacDonald settled on her love of Vermont’s seasons, creating six enormous prints of multicolored orbs representing each season, titled, “Orb Cycle.”
The orbs seem to float like angelic balls of yarn, with endless strings running in and out of the skein. In addition to spring, summer, fall, and winter, MacDonald incorporated stick season and mud season—both very classic of Vermont. Her perspective on the seasons is also personal to her with the orb’s colors reflecting what she sees in her own backyard. Instead of depicting stick season in one of the orbs, MacDonald sees it as oak season, due to the towering oak trees around her house.
The exhibit is located at the Wilson Museum at the Southern Vermont Art Center and runs through Oct. 20.