I - Chaos
II - Resilience
III - Loss & Renewal
Phyllis Ewen’s recent drawings in “Sonata” are in many ways revelatory. These eloquent and evocative visual entries span a year wrought with enormous hardship and change. Working on graph paper, each work is like a rough-cut recording of a single note sounding a moment in time. Scientific, tonal and organically explosive, “Sonata” distills through meditative mark-making the beauty that can be found in chaos.
– Debbie Nadolney, director and curator of AMP Gallery, Provincetown MA
Sonata is a marvelous new series of drawings. Tender weight of line and lyrical gesture are the scaffolding for powerful political statements that are also deeply personal. It is a complex and unexpected dynamic that gives Ewen’s art the power to effect change.
- Barbara O’Brien
Former Executive Director, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
As 2020 unrolled before us, around us, and in us, with its incipient fascism, its ravaging disease, its exposure of racism, Phyllis Ewen mapped it in drawings. Recording our national catastrophe, and with it our seasons, growing things, the possibility of life: she has faithfully kept in sight the fact that the coronavirus looks like nothing so much as a grain of pollen. What would I have done without her translations of our fears and passions? Not cameos or snapshots, but taken together, an epic. "Epics record, “sing of,” shape the fall of human worlds, and sometimes their foundations.
The shape that emerges from this sequence of images is a map of the United States, outlined in the names of murdered Black folks, deluged by waves, smothered with chrysanthemums, disintegrating into embers, bursting apart with rage--or is it energy? We are still here, in a dangerous space between worlds, one damaged and one (or more) possible: it’s fitting to close this series with one covert map made of tulips and another smothered in viruses. We are exploring still.
Mary Baine Campbell,
Poet, Professor Brandeis University