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Artist Statement

Forgotten Lands: 2017-2020

Wetlands are considered the in-between world of both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. They are among the largest, most diverse ecosystems in the world and act as the earth’s filter. They can often be overlooked, disregarded, perceived as ugly or as wasted acreage. They have been drained and filled in for building and agricultural purposes. Invasive species are also a major threat to these areas and can eventually overtake them completely. Disappearing wetlands means an unbalanced environment and a dramatic loss of plant and wildlife.

I have been seeking out the different types of marshy wetlands of Northwest Montana, spending time in these places with each changing season. There are several types of wetlands including swamps, sloughs and wet meadows. The natural elements of a wetland can constantly change from season to season, year to year depending on precipitation and evaporation.

There is something so mysterious about these transitional places where plants and animals of both land and water coincide. I am fascinated by the energies that are radiating around these areas so full of life. I have been thinking about the way weather patterns change the scene from day to day, season to season while simultaneously representing the Earth’s cycles and seasons of life.

As I explore and study these different wetland areas, I make small and large-scale drawings, prints and oil paintings. I have incorporated into my paintings the dried grasses, leaves and seeds from the plant life that exists here as well as the moss and lichen. By bringing materials from the earth into my paintings I’m able connect deeper to my experiences within the landscape. I want my work to hold the emotion and feeling of nature, which is my greatest influence. I’m also fascinated by the way a place can stay within you; the memory of it. When I create, I think about the way these places live inside me to allow the feeling to come through.

 The colors and tones of the work hold the mood of the landscape captured in each season and help tell the story of the transitions of an ever-changing landscape. I want to help bring an awareness and understanding to the importance of protecting our wetlands and the delicate balance of these sacred lands.

True Remains  /  Passage of Renewal  2005-2016

Powerful forces and cycles of nature have helped to shape and recreate the vast features of the land. Although nature’s forces can be devastating, time reveals the Earth’s ability to heal and transform itself, leaving behind a new surrounding that lives on.

The fires of Montana have opened up passages to what once was and what will be again—the remains of burned trees, scattered and hidden among the forest, provide signs of the past. Hill sides of blackened trees nurture and guard thousands of younger trees. The forest is recreating itself into a much healthier one. Old trees that have lived long lives finally get to rest in peace. They replenish the land with new seeds and fertilize the soil beneath them.

Fire has a very beautiful and intriguing life of its own. The intense flames seem to be a timeless gesture rolling across the horizon. When ash and smoke clear, new vistas welcome a breath of fresh air and signify new beginnings.

I find spontaneity and freedom in the power of nature, which inspires me in the creation of my work. I experience painting the way I do the landscape. It holds the same quietness the same search. Through the layering of paint and materials, I begin to find continuity with what I’ve discovered in nature. I scrape and burn into the surface. The materials I use (moss, charcoal, pine needles, and other organic materials) signify the surroundings from where they have been taken, allowing me to connect more directly with nature. I begin a new journey through each painting. As I paint, memories rush through me. Most of the time, I am searching for answers I can only come so close to understanding. I find something indescribable in nature that is never made completely clear in the form of language, which creates my need to paint.

Like the seasons, time transforms the forest and leaves only remnants of what once was, and truth remains.

—Dana Berardinis