Catalog of Work 2017
Lynette Haggard mines the margin between geometric perfection and the painterly, the ordered and the unexpected, foreground and background, the layered and the flat. She has a classical sensibility that holds to an exemplary standard, but those proclivities also have the breadth to incorporate the expressive and more personal gestures as well.
Many of her new paintings — Outside In, Hexagon and Parts of a Dream, among others — explore these tensions, and they speak with authority to the order-seeking intellect as well as the visceral and emotional registers of the body.
Her compositional sense has consistently demonstrated a clear confidence and sophistication, reflecting her many years of making art as well as her careful study of the work of others. That expertise can also be seen in her relationship with color, which is distinct and well defined. Haggard’s finely honed sense gets played out in fresh juxtapositions that range from the delicate, barely there tonalities seen in works like Side Door, to the feisty and more muscular combinations found in the assemblage Parceled. At either end of the chromatic spectrum, the colors in her paintings and constructions carry on a lively, animated conversation with each other, whether whispered or at full voice.
Range is a feature of Lynette Haggard’s way of working. She is an exemplar of the type of artist who continually moves in, through and on. Her work can span small, intimate pieces as well as larger, more human-scaled formats. She has explored both two and three dimensions, and she has incorporated a variety of traditional and nontraditional materials into her work. Haggard maintains an active repertoire of methodologies that includes painting, sculpture, printmaking, assemblage, and collage. Her new series of assemblages, constructed from pre-cut industrial cardboard, expands into new territories—“found” forms, and the delicate liminality that exists between 2D and 3D.
Her method of art making and the flow of her ideas are perpetually in motion, and the ongoing explorations encountered in her work attest to an intelligent and inquisitive mind. As a fellow artist, i know how easy it is to become tethered to a particular form, style or subject matter. while continuing to experiment, an artist’s work can continually drift toward a particular proclivity, a familiar “homing” sensibility. Once considered necessary from an identity and marketing standpoint, that approach is no longer valued as an artist asset. Haggard stands out for not being constrained in her curiosity or constricted in her self-directed sense of aesthetic adventure.
The quality of Lynette Haggard’s work that I find particularly exceptional however is her sense of materials. She is masterful with media, whatever it may be. Every material she embraces is run through the gauntlet of her scrutiny. Test strips are scattered around her studio, evidence of her methodical approach to identifying the smallest variations. These experiments are conducted less as lab procedures than as ongoing conversations, her way of listening carefully to what a particular medium is saying. Seeing her careful notations on my last visit to her studio, I was reminded of the account of architect Louis Kahn famously instructing his students on the importance of conversing with each building material by asking, “what do you want to be, brick?”
As a result of her tenacity and focus, Haggard gets to the outer edges of what a material can do and be, a zone that many practitioners don’t discover. For example, Haggard has a long history of using encaustic and has studied its very particular technique extensively. Many artists have been seduced by the luminosity of hot wax surfaces and become locked into that material as their dominant methodology. Haggard, neither a true believer nor a camp follower, took her knowhow and set out on her own path to embed, incorporate and
integrate the buttery surfaces and diffused light of that beeswax medium into her way of working. It is one of her tools, not her master. As yet another arrow in her quiver, encaustic is well employed in bringing new and unexpected dimensions of light and layering into her current move to a more oil-centric way of working.
To be interested in Lynette Haggard’s work is to sign up for a perpetual journey, one that will include changes in terrain, temperature and tonality. Her pieces, like Lynette herself, are porous, open, self-directed. The strength inherent in a Haggard piece may seem quiet and understated when compared to the uber-dramatic, noisy, self-absorbed art so tiresomely abundant these days. But I challenge anyone to sit silently with her work, in person, for just 30 minutes. Let the language of her art making emerge and be heard. It does not scream, thankfully. The various voices I hear speaking through her art are clear, accomplished, playful and joyously present. Having lived with her work every day for many years, I have firsthand experience with the staying power of her creative vision. My eye has never grown tired nor has my interest flagged in these intelligent, thoughtful, engaging works.
DEBORAH BARLOW is a painter who exhibits in the United States and Europe. Most recently her work was featured at the Morris Graves Museum, Woodbury Museum, Morpeth Contemporary Gallery and Deedee Shattuck Gallery. She has also curated numerous exhibits that expand the commonalities between art, science and cosmology. Barlow writes about artmaking and creativity on Slowmuse, particularly advocating for art that seems "made by one person out of intense personal necessity, often by hand" (art critic Roberta Smith). She lives in Brookline MA and works out of a studio in Waltham MA.