By Maureen Lamasney, co-curator of “Terroir”, from exhibition catalogue, Friesen Gallery, Ketchum, Idaho, August 2012
Holly Downing has traveled the world, soaking up a rich Fine Art education both formal and experiential. While also a skilled printmaker, her large scale oil paintings of draped textiles are a tour de force of technique that evokes far more emotional and psychological content than facility with light and shadow typically suggests.
In one, Downing fills her large canvas with shades of white and grey twisted and draped fabrics of which one is plain, the other patterned. There is nothing restful here in their suspension against an empty background. (Below), the shape of a sensual flesh-colored and subtly striped shawl of a type worn by women in Peru to carry children and goods is described by American art critic Donald Kuspit as “in effect a reclining odalisque”.
Downing’s work pays homage to textiles as treasures of cultural identity and belonging, offering comfort and support, conveying a sense of place and values. Carrying familiar reminders of home is particularly meaningful when they’re all that can be relied upon for those who seek shelter in new lands.