Directors digress from work into art

Going outside of a personal comfort zone is always challenging, yet results of these “detours” are often memorable and very rewarding.

These detours, or digressions, are explored in the current exhibit at the Amy E.Tarrant Gallery, “Director’s Digressions.”

The show, which opened Sept. 10 and will run until Nov. 26, features the work of two prominent figures within the Burlington arts community: Janie Cohen, director of the Fleming Museum, and Sara Katz, assistant director of the Burlington City Arts Council.

John Killacky, director of the gallery, said he originally proposed the word “delight” to be part of the gallery’s title, but it was Cohen who suggested the term “digression” as a more fitting description.

The theme of the show is centered around the artists’ professional identities and how their art represents a refocusing from their main occupations as administrators.dsc_0555

  “It’s definitely a different activity than what we spend our days doing; neither of us are full-time, practicing artists,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s own work is centered around the manipulation of historic fabrics and cloth to create engaging designs.

Alternating between a standard nine-to-five job and a project on the side is never simple, Cohen said, but it has its benefits.

“It’s a really wonderful dichotomy,” she said. “I’ll go home and completely get out of the mindset of what I do [at work].”  This is Cohen’s first time in the spotlight as a featured artist.

Katz’s paintings, which focus on capturing the natural world, have been shown in galleries around Vermont and the North East according to her website.

Katz encounters conflict between the concreteness and organization of her average work day, and the more abstract ideas she has as a painter, she said.

It’s like “another language,” she said, “a visual that does not connect with the real world, my job title.”

Yet Katz said her position  helps her develop her own creative process.  “I come into contact with a lot of artists at BCA,” Katz said.  “I learn a lot from that about what other artists are interested in, how they approach their work and sometimes about the use of materials that I can apply directly to my own practice.”

As a cohesive show, the space showed two very distinct, but compatible styles, Killacky said. More importantly, the show gave Cohen the opportunity to showcase herself and her talents outside of her job title.