Terri Amig's animal portraits express human emotions in exhibit at Quiet Life Gallery
Published: Friday, June 29, 2012, 6:13 AM
By Janet Purcell/For The Times of Trenton.
A bird and a calf seem to be having a conversation
in Terri Amig's "How Did We Get Here" at the Quiet
Life Gallery in Lambertville.
It’s one thing to be a proficient portrait artist.
However, it’s something else to be able to capture the personality of your subject — especially if your subject is an animal!
Terri Amig is an expert at that and, as Amy Caccavale, owner of the Quiet Life Gallery in Lambertville, says, Amig captures “the very essence of her animal subjects. Every eyelash, whisker, and glint in the eye is rendered with astonishing detail. ”But when you visit this exhibition of 11 of Amig’s animal portraits at Quiet Life, don’t expect photo realism. Yes, the paintings do have that aspect to a degree, but Amig also imbues them with personalities that actually mirror our own.
In “Don’t Look Back,” for example, a large bust-like rendering of a curly-haired ram, this majestic figure, seen in profile, has a look in his eye that makes you think he is about to impart a gem of wisdom. He seems to be smiling a shy sort of smile. “How Did We Get Here?” portrays a young calf and a black bird against a background of blue — no landscape, no context in which to place them. The bird looks to the left and the sheep to the right even as they lean toward each other companionably. In “Trade Off for Three Squares,” a brown and white cow and a raccoon are seen against a flat black background suggesting night and feeding time — at least for the raccoon. They both seem to be waiting, just as our domestic pets wait as we fill their feeding bowls.
Amig’s animals in this series live in a world that is different from that of our cats and dogs, from our own lives, but she has a way of mirroring our humanity in these wild animals.
Amig attended the Corcoran School of Art and Design in Washington, D.C., the California Institute of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.
She is a resident of Cape May Court House, and her work is on display in galleries and venues in South Jersey as well as the Philadelphia Zoological Society in Philadelphia and with Todd DuCharme, Supreme Court justice of Ontario, Canada.
When, in May and June of this year, she had a solo exhibition at the SOMA NewArt Gallery in Cape May, her work was likened to the intensity of Renaissance portraiture “with the intention of rekindling of recognition of a kindred spirit or a reflection of ourselves. There is something about these paintings, a view into a world wholly different and wild, yet at the same time familiar and safe,” according to the gallery’s website, somagallery.net.
However, Caccavale says that when she was putting this show together, Amig told her the actual painting of these animal portraits gave her nervous energy she never felt before, and that she had a hard time sleeping when working on them. But what you feel when you spend time with the paintings is a peaceful connection with the animals, an innate understanding. You become aware of this other vibrant life going on simultaneously with your own, one in which these animals interact with each other in similar ways to our own.
A painting that can be seen in the expansive windows of the Quiet Life is “Escape,” in which a young golden horse is seen running with a larger brown one. The viewer can almost feel the joy of horses running free. Yet, in “Things That Have Landed on Me for More Than 20 Minutes,” a 30- by 30-inch oil on linen, you can feel the enduring patience of the young white sheep who, for the moment at least, is forgoing freedom by allowing a white bird to rest on its back and a colorful butterfly to explore his soft white wool.
In an essay on artcnow.com/featured_art.php, the writer describes Amig as “existing in harmony with the animal kingdom. “Like a radio, antenna up and tuned to the right frequency — Amig is completely in tune with nature. It inspires her art from a very deep and meaningful place,” the essay continues.
Terri Amig’s Animals
When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays, and by appointment, through Aug. 5
Where: The Quiet Life Gallery, 17 S. Main St., Lambertville
Contact: (609) 397-0880 or firstname.lastname@example.org