By LORI ABBOTTS
Daily News Staff
Those attending this weekend’s “The Joy Inside Our Tears” exhibition at sevenminusseven art gallery on Saturday will see some new and exciting — and unexpected — work from local batik artist Doreen Walsh.
Born in New York City, Walsh grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Penn State University. After a 15-month sketching tour of Western Europe she settled in Oregon, where she honed her skills as a batik artist while working for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She has been exhibited internationally since 1975, including a national show entitled “Letters” at the Clocktower in New York City and a statewide show, Oregon Paintings and Prints,” in Oregon in 1987.
A visit with her brother living on St. Thomas prompted the decision to move to the island in 1989. Since adopting St. Thomas as her home, Walsh has continued her batik work, garnering several awards for her creations. Her works can be found at First V.I. Federal Savings Bank, Dr. Pomeranz’ dental office, V.I. Public Works Department, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (Schneider Regional Medical Center), the St. Thomas Reformed Church and more on St. Thomas, Anderson House in Florida, Ashland Community Hospital and Schrodt Designs in Oregon.
Walsh uses a traditional wax resist method of batik to create her images, placing wax on cloth to prevent dye from penetrating it, leaving “blank” areas in the dyed fabric. The process is repeated over and over to create complex multicolored designs. Her batiks are known for their richness of detail, subtle relationship of color and dynamic sense of space. The depth and movement within each piece, she says, is a balance of action and thought, coming together to create the whole.
“Batik affords me a finer balance between pre-made plans, impromptu ideas and things beyond control,” said Walsh. “I use this resist-dyeing technique to form my images to capture feelings and delight in the rich details of my surroundings. As I work, manipulating wax, fabric and relationships of colors, thinking about lines, shapes and a sense of space, I am playing with the directions of the eye and mind, trying to bring depth and movement to each whimsical scene.”
Saturday’s exhibit at sevenminusseven will be her third time exhibiting with the art collective. For this show, Walsh will push her creativity to a new level with a new medium: photography.
The foray into photography was inspired by the director of sevenminusseven, Clay Jones. The upcoming show is intended to exhibit works by artists done in the last few months during the COVID pandemic, but Walsh had been distracted by the crisis and had no new batiks to show. Jones suggested that she show the photos she posted on Facebook related to her new interest in gardening.
“Clay inspired me to look at those photos again and really look,” Walsh said. “Before, I was taking snapshots. Now I’m taking photographs, looking at the plants and really composing, creating angles and changing the light, even putting water on it.”
Her new work is a collage of photographs on fabric, entitled “Eleven Close Ups.”
“I’m finding it’s not my traditional medium of batik, but it’s a similar process of focusing and looking and creating, using colors and shapes to move the eye.”
On the cover:
A close up of one of Walsh’s photographs to be shown at the sevenminusseven art exhibit Saturday on St. Thomas.