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Pioneer | Scent Exploration + Activism

Posted on: Wednesday, November 15, 2017

PIONEER worktable documentation | photo: Abigail Doan, 2017

I am excited to share news of an olfactory art | scent project that I have had in the works since 2016. PIONEER was conceived as a sensory-based tool that would re-invigorate my artistic practice by aiding excursions for Walking Libraries 2016/17 as well my own dis-ease in the current environmental and political climate. 

I commissioned studio Atelier de Geste, to design a two part scent kit that could be utilized in both urban and open rural spaces as well as interior zones to help prompt a feeling of centeredness as well as clarity regarding environmental (art) activist strategies. PIONEER will be released during the late winter of 2018, paired with images from Walking Libraries and the atmospheric observations that surfaced.
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'This scent commission, PIONEER, is designed for both personal use (for an artist) and to be nestled within an artist’s creative practice. Responding to Abigail Doan’s personal history and her involvement in environmental activism, the scent is created in two seasons (winter / summer) or iterations. Due to her extensive practice of walking as an art form, the key notes in both scents evoke ecological cues of particular spaces that inform her future strategies of interfacing with the environment. They are two very distinct scents in dialogue, attributes of the seasons, that also propel the audience into a type of motion forward, echoing the artist’s practice.' – Beau Rhee, artist/designer and director of Atelier de Geste

[ The above excerpt is from Atelier de Geste's project archives, with mood boards created by Beau Rhee during our 2016/17 dialogues.]


Materials research for PIONEER @abigaildoanstudio

More news to come, but you can also follow along via #ProjectPioneerScent on Instagram.

The Longing for 'Environmental Togetherness'

Posted on: Wednesday, October 04, 2017

'Cure for Nostalgia 01' with a home remedy, black walnut, and field linen

It is officially autumn now. 

Autumn always makes me nostalgic, perhaps more so than spring or summer. It might be the waning atmospheric light or the poignant scents that are associated with a composting harvest on the now fallow fields of our own fecundity. Everything begins to feel more internalized and the land knows this, too.

Wetland vegetation near our former family farm in the Hudson Valley

With every passing season, I am making a practice of returning to the familiar plots and fence lines of my childhood farm in the Hudson Valley. We no longer own this land, but because I still long for its atmosphere and sustaining climate of layered memories, I continue to check in seasonally to survey any changes. 

The plantings and fence lines of childhood wanderings | Hudson Valley (2017)

My senses feel both deadened and heightened during these visits. Sometimes the links seem broken, and often one has to listen more intently to connect through the fog. Why is it that the entire world feels so different from last season? How quickly are the crops rotating? In what manner is the earth's rich soil continually revealing what we need to see but still cannot grasp?

Catskills | Summer Sanctuary

Posted on: Monday, August 07, 2017

The flowing Esopus Creek with Queen Anne's Lace in the Catskills Mountains

August is typically the quiet month. The one when folks either decide to go off-grid or when wanderlust travelers opt to share the beauty and nuances of every exquisite detail of their findings on the road.

I have been fortunate to spend the first portion of my August in the Catskill Park of New York State, not far from the farmland where I grew up and became sensitive to the atmospheric details of local seasons and the terrain of rural landscapes.

The porch at Cedar Grove | Thomas Cole Site in Catskill, New York,
a viewing portal to the mountains and Hudson River

Both the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley have a shared tradition of regional landscape painting, seasonal travel, as well as serene moments for deep reflection in nature. Every time I visit, I learn more about how attuned painters of the Hudson River School were to the specifics of botanical species as well as geological formations. It is always so inspirational to decode their layered drawings and paintings. 

Early morning at Scribner's Lodge, like gentle fog rolling through the mountains

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Please enjoy more photos and discoveries from the Catskills, here.

Also of note, the arts/events programming at the Thomas Cole Site in Catskill, New York.

Follow my new Instagram as well for upcoming news and future travel.


In The Steps of Folly Cove | Exhibition Catalogue

Posted on: Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Detail of a my 96" x 48" block print on linen panel | on view In The Steps of Folly Cove

I am pleased to announce that Russell Janis Gallery has recently published an exquisite catalogue featuring exhibition and working photos as well as an essay by Elena Sarni on the critical context of the project, In The Steps of Folly Cove – Artist Print Invitational


Installation of printed artist panels at Russell Janis in Brooklyn

Artist, printmaker, and project curator, Janis Stemmermann, did a remarkable job of reviving the Folly Cove collaborative design spirit with her outreach to contemporary artists who may or may not have extensive printmaking experience. The range of linoleum block print design and hand-carving approaches was quite diverse, and reflective of both craft, pattern, and personal investigations.

Alignment and Shepherding | Summer 2017

Posted on: Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Traditional Bulgarian Shepherd's Bell suspended on linen fiber | 2017

Summer is often viewed as the slow time, a time when the elements remind us to reframe our daily movements, let go of ingrained patterns, and possibly examine how one might realign objects and materials in one's immediate environs. My own summer has thus far been focused on identifying new ways to create improved flow between my art practice and my home life, with specific emphasis on generating work that makes more sense in relation to the complexity and choreography of daily activity.

The Artist Residency in Motherhood (ARIM) project that I participated in from May 1 to July 1, 2017 was instrumental in helping me to think more holistically about life as an artist who does not always adhere to conventional studio methods or platforms for sharing.


Walking Libraries 2017 | materials on my home work table

I do not report to a studio every day; I do not (by parental choice) have the predictability of a set schedule; I often do not have the free time or perhaps the professional discipline to create what I feel is most essential to advancing my current body of work. Alternatively, I use walking as a way to connect self with space. I study the atmosphere and also feel motivated to action by environmental concerns. I am a surveyor and administrator of relative, mothering phenomena.

Because of this, I recently became pre-occupied with the word alignment, as I feel that it is the most helpful term for me when it seems as if my actions or intentions are simply not falling in place. When researching the word's meaning, I came across several definitions that made perfect sense to me. 
  • arrangement in a straight line, or in correct or appropriate relative positions
  • a position of agreement or alliance
Which brought me back to ideas and imagery that I have formerly created regarding the shepherding of bodies and/or materials across space. I honestly feel that I have become more of a shepherd than an artist these days, both conceptually and practically. I am guiding my own children, myself and others each day, while also searching for better ways to move ideas and materials over increasingly fragile or unpredictable terrain. 

We are all on the move it seems, no matter how much we try to slow down or adhere to a sensible program. Is there a way, though, where we might better shepherd each other or tend to shared terrain in ways that do not restrict movement or create limitations on how we creatively forage, if we even have that luxury to begin with?

Folly Cove Artist Print Invitational | Russell Janis

Posted on: Sunday, June 11, 2017

test print panel on the studio wall at Russell Janis in Brooklyn

I am thrilled to announce news of the upcoming exhibition and invitational print project, In The Steps of Folly Cove, organized by Russell Janis gallery and studio in Brooklyn, NY. My repeat print botanical design is based on an early scientific drawing by Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist, naturalist, and philosopher. I had not done any carving on linoleum block since junior high school, so my goal was to reintroduce myself to this process but in the spirit of a contemporary sketch and not a precise illustration of the plant form.


Block printing on Belgian linen double panel at Russell Janis studio

Janis Stemmermann of Russell Janis: "The Folly Cove Designers were an art and design collective that operated from 1939 to 1968 in Cape Ann, Massachusetts. I came across their archive when visiting the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts. As a collaborative printmaker, I was intrigued by how their simple format of carving and printing single color linoleum block prints brought together a community of artists and craftspeople that sustained them for so many years. I was very excited by this discovery and decided to invite a diverse group of creative practitioners from my own community to use the same approach at Russell Janis studio."

Block printed panels coming off the press at Russell Janis studio

To learn more about the unique prints created by participating artists – using the same approach as the historic Folly Cove Collective, follow this link to the project's campaign. 

Participating artists/printmakers include Peter Bregoli, Jean-Jacques Du Plessis, Louise Eastman, Jonathan Fabricant, Elise Ferguson, Susan Martin, Joe Peppe, Mylene Pionilla, Wendy Small, Barb Smith, Russell Steinert, Janis Stemmermann, Andy Yoder, and Abigail Doan.



Print and Pattern Artist Invitational

June 17 - July 30, 2017
opening from 6 to 9pm


292 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
(Graham Avenue, L Stop)

Russell Janis | Instagram

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