At first glance, artist and Larchmont resident Hilda Green Demsky’s paintings are a testament to the kinetic force of nature—independent of human involvement—where with determination and purpose, water flows as a sustaining force to plant, human and animal life.
Upon closer inspection, one notices the play of vivid colors on her canvases, echoing the great vibrancy of nature and its ability to soothe like a babbling brook, or rage powerfully, like a great flood.
Although the works in one of her previous shows at Pleiades Gallery in New York City appear to be representative of waterfalls, they are, in fact, “abstractions because I’ve edited what I’ve seen,” says Demsky, who played with color and form to create her renderings of water flowing over steep rock formations.
Further, Demsky said, her abstractions are “totally non-objective in a meditative style,” as she strives to evoke the feeling of calm and peace that closeness to nature implies without directly representing it.
Much of Demsky’s work centers on her fascination and respect for nature, which began early, during her years growing up in uniquely named Forty Fort, PA, a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania that suffered the ravages of the coal mining industry as well as destruction from the flooding of the nearby Susquehanna river.
Encouraged by her high school art teacher to pursue her burgeoning artistic talent, Desmsky attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, eventually making her way to NYC and obtaining a MFA from Hunter College. She taught art for 21 years at White Plains High School and Manhattanville College. She is also a member of the .
Explaining that she works in “five-year spurts” Demsky went from painting a mural containing “spaceships and rainbows” on the three walls of the front lobby of the Thomas S. Slater Center in White Plains—an afterschool center for kids—to, “deciding to come back down to earth to paint marine life.”
Her reconnection with nature occurred as part of a clean-up effort on the beach in Larchmont, when Demsky was confronted with the detritus of modern life that washed up on previously unblemished shores. Incensed by society’s apparent disregard for the environment, she brought the (sanitized) debris back to her studio, and created pollution-themed sculptures and paintings. She spent five years as an environmental and marine painter, before switching over again to paint, “what’s beautiful about water.”
After receiving a grant from the NY State Council on the Arts to paint the Bronx River, Demsky engaged the community in her work by asking passers-by what they loved about the River while she painted, including those comments—written on shipping tags—in her installation.
Additionally, Demsky has been awarded numerous artist’s residencies—a stay at a location where an artist can focus completely on their work—in locales with rugged and complex landscapes like Arcadia National Park in Maine and Ireland, as well as more tropical and lush environments like Costa Rica and the Museum Arts Center in St. Croix, which she’ll be attending in the winter of 2011.
For one so closely connected to nature, —with the energy exuded by her paintings—that there is a continuity and cycle of life that transcends the boundaries of the man-made world.