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These paintings are of landscapes I have created out of memory and imagination.  I often think about the importance of space, of being attuned to the place one is in.  Our environment affects not only thoughts and feelings, but the possibilities we see for ourselves as well.  For me, orienting myself to the space I am in is a part of the way I think about the world, seeing openings both literal and metaphorical. This work is an exploration of and examination of those places I have visited, imagined, longed for or searched. 


For many years the work focused on my interest in open spaces and the solid yet ethereal world of water, ice, and light that is the Arctic and Antarctic.  More recent work has focused on trees as vertical elements crossing the depicted space.  These vertical forms began with a family loss and my perception of grief as a barrier.  A difficult medical challenge led to the creation of more vertical elements as barriers to forward progression and to images of the sky as a locus of conflict and resolution. For me, painting is a way to understand and process these events and others. I invite the viewer to become immersed in each image and to explore the possibilities of that particular space.    


Inspiration for this work comes from phrases or descriptions in literature, reflections on world affairs or experiences in my own life.  All are visual expressions of a feeling, a concept, a place or a journey that resonates with me personally.  They begin with a small drawing and notes in a sketchbook and then evolve and develop more fully on the canvas.


Although these are imagined landscapes, I see this work as a continuation of the long history of American landscape painting.  From the artists who documented the American West like Thomas Moran and Alfred Bierstadt, to the Hudson River School painters and American Luminists, landscape painting has been central to American art.  The painters Georgia O’Keefe and especially Edward Hopper have been major influences, as have the meditative works of Mark Rothko.  Other reference points include the serene environments of Gothic cathedrals, historic mosques and many Buddhist and other temples.  Literary inspiration for many of the Arctic paintings was found in the magical descriptions written by Barry Lopez, in his natural history book, Arctic Dreams.

Peg Orcutt is originally from the Chicago area.  She studied studio art and art history at Wellesley College, earning a BA, and holds an MFA in Painting from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She taught drawing at the Junior College of Albany, NY, and has traveled internationally to many different landscapes.   She currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband. 

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