Reflections of life questions and meanings are expressed in artist Kay Henning Danley's new series

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Kay Danley's work will remain on display at the cultural center to Jan. 12.


Newberg Graphic reporter

Kay Henning Danley is presenting a new series of her work titled 'A Sense of Wonder' through Jan. 12 in one of the Chehalem Cultural Center's galleries.

Asking the question of what is it to be alive and how do moments that affect us give rise to meaning and memory, Danley's responses are expressed through both landscape and figurative painting.

"That sense of wonder really started with watching children and how they approach the world," she said. "They approach the world with a totally open attitude and as I watched them play, I realized that at some point they are going to come up against something that does not make sense in the world. There is that crack there is a transition between that sense of wonder and becoming older and understanding that the world is many faceted and sometimes hurtful. I began (asking), how could I express that … at how we all have a sense of wonder about our world and that is always tinted a little bit."

It took Danley 18 months to complete the 21 paintings displayed at the CCC.

Her landscapes are designed to communicate less emotion than the figurative pieces; the landscape is about a sense of wonder and the figurative shows the expression of that transition. Her interest is in the internal dialogue that results from the transition and how to express that, she said.

"Life begins as innocent, mysterious and magical and transitions gradually into knowledge that experience and people are not always what they seem or should be," she added. "Confusion and doubt arise and innocence is eventually challenged."

What Danley puts on the canvas is not planned, but rather intuitive and experimental, she said, adding that she finds the layers of failures an interesting part of the process. She uses a variety of materials to express her voice, is not stuck on one type of paint and paints on wood, paper or canvas. When she paints plein air and brings the pieces back into her studio, she works on editing and is not limited in her media, using a variety of techniques depending on the desired expression of the piece.

"Drawing is important as a fresh and accessible portal to the intuition," Danley said. "With drawing, there is no brush or tool separating the creative experience from the surface, it is immediate and powerful. I use drawing to inform my paintings, to work out ideas without hesitation. The only tool is usually a small piece of charcoal that seems part of the hand and the hand connects directly to the first impulse."

Spanning 40 years of work, Danley was pre-inclined as a child for a life in the arts. A former high school teacher turned mentored her and she attended Prescott College in Arizona to further her studies. She taught art in public schools until 2003 and has been painting professionally ever since.

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