“Drenched and Overgrown” – by Resa Blatman

My installations, paintings, drawings, and fishing line projects speak to a warming planet, invasive plant and animal species, plastics, and rising tides and their effect on and transformation of our landscape and natural resources. To reflect this concept visually, some of the artworks’ subjects and surfaces are layered with cut forms that mimic coral, seaweed, and flora. In the paintings, there are cold weather animals trying to survive in hot, swampy environments, and walls of ocean water swallowing the landscape. The paintings reflect this tragic reality through a narrative of dramatic skies, invasive plants, and anxious, yet lovingly painted birds.

There’s a physicality to the installation work in the way it juts forth from the wall, creating a metaphorical sound like the rapturous violence of giant waves crashing into a calving glacier. We are living in uncertain times — a growing ‘water world’ with more droughts and dwindling fresh drinking water, as our need for it arises. My work traverses the underbelly of the sublime and the future of an Earthly dystopia.

Because my seascapes are ironically made of plastic, they are directly related to the concepts in The Universal Sea project — my use of plastic materials, in both the installations and paintings, causes a paradox of thought. I’m repulsed by the proliferation of plastics in nearly everything we use and how it’s littered throughout the natural environment, yet I’m attracted to the smooth sexiness, ease of cutting, and the durability of working and painting on this material. My tiny-haired brushes glide along the surface, allowing the oil paint to leave delicate marks and lush statements. Most plastic has a short lifespan — one use and it’s discarded, may be recycled. My work offers plastic a long shelf life, thereby raising its hierarchy and value in the material world. It also becomes ambiguous: the way the paint sits on the surface, how it captures the light, and the transparency, calls to mind Old Master modes of painting, such as indirect, glazing, etc. A sleek, silky, glossy, human-made material is cut, painted, layered, and transformed into a contemporary, swirling waterscape, where beauty and darkness reside.


In 2015, I participated in an artists’ residency in Svalbard, Norway. We sailed on a small, antique sailing vessel up the west coast of the archipelago, stopping at several fjords along the way north. We spent hours on shore to work/photograph, hike, and explore the landscape. It was a memorable and inspirational experience, which led me to the installation work that I’ve been making and exhibiting ever since. My work is inspired by the issues that encompass climate change and I find it cathartic to make work that speaks to these concerns. When I was in Svalbard, I thought I’d be intensely motivated by the glaciers, as I’d been using glaciers in my work for a few years beforehand, but surprisingly, the ocean was my muse, and after my residency, I started the painted water series, which includes “Drenched and Overgrown.”


Three Actions with the Public: 

– action 1: I would engage the public in discussions that speak to the many impacts of climate change through an on-site performance — I will attempt to untie a large piece of aqua-blue, plastic-made fishing net that I found and brought back from my trip to the Arctic Circle in 2015. With basic tools, I will untie some of the several hundred hardened and ultra-tight knots in the net — a difficult task, and metaphor for the unravelling of the environment and the over five trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans.

– action 2: I would provide a slide show of digital images of my work and provide discussions about the effects of climate change.
– action 3: I would work on my fishing line/knot-tying project — this is macramé with some of the found fishing lines from the Arctic. This is slow, tedious, but beautiful work. All of these actions  have  the potential to initiate important and interesting discussions, and reach a deep and thoughtful sensibility  within the viewer — it can be a profound teaching moment that recognizes the urgency for art within a society, which will hopefully encourage the audience to ask important questions about their contribution to climate issues, and make changes where possible, both personally and politically.
Resa Blatman (b: U.S.) received an MFA in painting from Boston University in 2006, and a BFA in graphic design from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1995. She taught graphic design at MassArt from 1997-2012. Resa has received several grants and awards, including the Arctic Circle Residency in June 2015. Her work is included in many private and public collections, including (U.S.) Fidelity; Twitter; Hilton Hotel; (international) The WH Ming Hotel, Shanghai, China; United Arab Emirates; Europe. Selected upcoming and recent projects included in 2018: “Wake” at the Dorsky Gallery, NY; “Long Eye” at The Museum of Art at UNH; “Life Is a Beautiful Place: A Radical Collaboration” at the Childs Gallery, Boston, NY. Resa’s installation “Drenched and Overgrown” is featured on the cover of the Boston Society of Architect’s winter quarterly magazine. 2017: solo show at the University Gallery, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL; group show at the Massachusetts College of Art. 2016: solo show at Wright Art Center Gallery, Delta State University, Cleveland, MS; site-specific commissioned installation for the Somerville Hospital, MA; 10-month solo show at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, GA; group show at the Spartanburg Art Museum, Spartanburg, SC. Resa’s work has been reviewed and featured in numerous publications — several recent articles and a podcast on Resa’s work and climate change can be found at the links on her homepage.
To read these and to see more work, please visit her website at resablatman.com