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Aug 21


[Art credit: Wolf Kahn website]
YWP ARTISTS! Each month, we'll introduce you to great contemporary artists from around the world and here in Vermont. Scroll through and learn about the artists and their work, be inspired, and create your own great art! 

Go to the Great Artists Challenge to post your response to the artists' stories and life work – paint, draw, photograph, write a poem or an appreciation of the artist! Use any medium to express yourself. Share your art with YWP and get published in YWP publications and Vermont media. 

WOLF KAHN – We begin the series with master landscape painter Wolf Kahn, whose brilliant oils and pastels are celebrated for balancing "the sensuous qualities of color, light, and paint with a relatively stark geometry of form." (New York Times, March 24, 2020) Kahn, who was born in Germany in 1927, lived and worked in Vermont and New York City until his passing in 2020.

Credit: All art in this feature by Wolf Kahn, left to right, Hot Summer, On the Kafka Place, Ochre Barn, Blue Ridge III. 

EMILY MASON – For most of her painting life, Emily Mason, an abstract artist of intensely bold colors, gained much of her inspiration from southern Vermont, where she spent summers creating her paintings and prints alongside her husband, artist Wolf Kahn. “There’s a factor of nature that’s Vermont," she said in a Vermont Public interview that aired in 2019. "It sustains, in a beautiful way." Mason (1932-2019) grew up in a family of artists and spent many years studying and teaching art, but there was nothing preconceived about her paintings. “I’d like a painting to take me to a place I haven’t been,” she said in the documentary, Emily Mason: A Painting Experience.
Credit: All art in this feature by Emily Mason, left to right, Equal Paradise; Semaphore; Landscapes, Seascapes, Fire Escapes; Way Down Yonder

NORVAL MORRISSEAU This self-taught artist (1931-2007) is considered the grandfather of contemporary Indigenous Canadian art, an innovative visual storyteller who created the Woodland School of art. With his distinctive style and bold colors, he expressed the values of the Anishinaabe culture that his grandparents passed on to him – spiritual symbolism, the natural world, and family bonds. 

Respond by posting your own art or write an appreciation or poem inspired by the artist.

Credit: All art in this feature by Norval Morrisseau
PHILIP GUSTON – Philip Guston (1913-80) was born Phillip Goldstein in Montreal, Quebec to Jewish parents who had fled persecution in Ukraine. His family moved to Los Angeles, CA, when he was a young boy, and Guston grew up to become one of America’s most influential modern artists in a range of artistic styles, including figuration, muralism, and abstract expressionism. He was a founding figure in the New York School abstract expressionist movement in the 1950s and a contemporary of Wolf Kahn. His work continues to provoke and raise social and political questions about freedom, brutality, violence, racism, and civil strife. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., is currently (until Aug. 27, 2023) featuring Philip Guston Now, an exhibition of more than 150 paintings and drawings that follow Guston's 50-year career, the historical events that influenced his work, and his own personal story. Living in poverty and losing his father to suicide when he was 10 years old, Guston retreated into art, hiding away in a closet where he read and taught himself to draw under a bare lightbulb, according to the National Gallery. Guston's bold art has sparked controversy and debate over when and where to show work that includes his haunting, hooded Ku Klux Klan figures. As a teenager, Guston painted a fresco in Los Angeles attacking the KKK. It was destroyed by the LAPD's red squad. In response to the violence of war and social unrest of the 1960s, Guston returned to the KKK figures he had first depicted in LA in the 1930s. After World War II, Guston addressed the horrors of the Holocaust, especially in a pair of paintings called The Porch (see below). "The only reason to be an artist," Guston said, "is to bear witness." See the National Art Gallery's video about Guston's life and art: "Philp Guston's Story.
[All art by Philip Guston: Clockwise, top, The Porch (Holocaust paintings, 1945}; Gladiators (1940); City Limits (1969). Images from the National Gallery of Art and MoMA]

Respond to this artist's work by posting your own art or write an appreciation or poem inspired by the artist.

TIM TADDER – Tim Tadder, born in 1972, is an internationally acclaimed photographer, based in Southern California. He is known for his bold and experimental graphic images that challenge assumptions and raise awareness about social justice and environmental issues. YWP photographer laurenm is a big fan of Tadder's work and suggested featuring him in the Great Artists series. "I love everything he does," laurenm said, "But my favorite is his collection 'black is a color,' which features his experimental paint photography." (See below)

Respond by posting your own art or write an appreciation or poem inspired by the artist.

[Credit for all art in this feature: Tim Tadder,]
GEORGIA O'KEEFFE – Renowned for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New Mexican landscapes, and New York City skyscrapers, Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) has been called the "Mother of American modernism." She urged people to look closely at the world around them, to really see, empathize, and understand. 

Respond by posting your own art or write an appreciation or poem inspired by the artist.

[Credit for all art: Georgia O'Keeffe,]
INKA ESSENHIGH – This contemporary American painter, born in 1969, creates colorful and surreal paintings of her surroundings, especially of the natural world. Her paintings are described as having flowing energy. They are dreamlike and often humorous. Museums and galleries across the U.S., exhibit her work, including the paintings below presented by the Miles McEnery Gallery in New York.

Respond by posting your own art or write an appreciation or poem inspired by the artist.

[Credit for all art: Inka Essenhigh, Miles McEnery Gallery,
 Clockwise, Blue Mountain, 2022; Queen Anne's Lace, 2020; Orange Fall, 2020]

VAUNE TRACHTMAN Vermont-based photographer and printmaker Vaune Trachtman creates dreamy, layered images that combine past and present in both technology and subject. In "Now Is Always," her series of photopolymer gravures, Trachtman layers negatives taken by her late father of his Philadelphia friends and neighbors during the Depression, with her own cell phone images, taken almost a century later. She explains it as "a sense of collapsed-yet-expanded time." Trachtman's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, as well as locally at the Vermont Center for Photography in Brattleboro, where she lives. She has also created original art and photomontage for set decoration for film and TV, including the HBO Max reboot of "Gossip Girl." Her work inspired YWP's "Unleash Your Inner Artist" workshop in March. See Geri's poem, "A House Is Like a Human," written in response to Trachtman's "Home (2019)," pictured below, right.

[All art credit: Vaune Trachtman, left, "Reverie" from "Now Is Always" series; right, "Home (2019)"]

Respond by posting your own art or write an appreciation or poem inspired by the artist.

LYORA PISSARRO – This descendant of Camille Pissarro is an accomplished artist in her own right. Her great-great-grandfather was the Danish-French painter known as the “father of Impressionism,” and her great-grandfather, Paul-Émile Pissarro, was also a renowned painter. In her art, Lyora Pissaro, 31, of Brooklyn, charts her own course, for instance by using 3-D projection mapping. She told Alyson Krueger of The New York Times in an April 22, 2023 story ( that she "had to find my take on Impressionism. I couldn’t just do what Camille Pissarro did 150 years ago.” On her website, the artist writes: "Landscapes are windows into nature through which humans can connect more intimately with the majestic spaces they inhabit, they accompany us on our journey inwards, perhaps in our desire to mirror their undeniable stability and peace, within ourselves. Through endless varieties of color, my work distorts the habitual landscape form, blending the digital into the traditional and blurring the elusive nature of reality itself. Worlds are created and connected through endless layers of color, offering an inwards perspective into an inevitably self created reality, where anyone can defy the very own law of gravity."
[Photo credit, above: Desiree Rios/The New York Times; All art credit below: Lyora Pissarro]


Respond by posting your own art or write an appreciation or poem inspired by the artist.
LISA DIMONDSTEIN – This art photographer from Hyde Park, VT, is among the many inspiring artists featured by Burlington City Arts (BCA) [see] Dimondstein is quoted on the BCA site, describing her artistic process: "Photographing the natural world, for me, is a contemplative process. I am drawn into patterns, reflections, form and light and while I’m photographing time disappears. Through my fine art photography I want to capture a sense of place that may not be literal but holds the feeling or essence of what I’m seeing or experiencing. I’m drawn to a sense of movement and fluidity in images and work with montages, movement and multiple exposures as tools to capture a moment in time." 
[Photo credit: Friends of Green River Reservoir]
[Featured art by Lisa Dimondstein from Burlington City Arts website,, clockwise, left to right: Autumn Glow, Ancient Silhouette, Forest Abstract 2, Water Dreaming, Reeds in Sunset, Colorwash.]

Respond by posting your own art or write an appreciation or poem inspired by the artist.

FRIDA KAHLO – Despite years of chronic pain, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) created art from a young age until her death at age 47. Kahlo's many self-portraits emphasize her distinctive dark brows and steady gaze, and they often depict the physical pain she experienced through her life – childhood polio, a serious bus accident, and multiple surgeries – as well as the emotional pain of her turbulent relationship with artist Diego Rivera. The two artists married in 1929, divorced in 1939, and married again in 1940. Kahlo's art celebrates Mexican and indigenous culture and the natural world, mixing realism with fantasy and exploring questions of identity, class, race, and gender. She joined the Mexican Communist Party in 1927 and belonged to the post-revolutionary Mexicayotl movement, which sought to define a Mexican identity. In her 200 paintings and drawings, the female experience and form are prominent, and she was highly regarded by feminists and members of the LGBTQ+ community. In her final days, Kahlo was unable to leave her home but continued to create art – vibrant still life paintings of the fruits from her garden and nearby markets. 
[Featured art by Frida Kahlo, left to right, The Two Fridas (1939); Self-Portrait with Monkey (1940); Fruit of Life (1953). Source: Frida Kahlo website,]

Respond by posting your own art or write an appreciation or poem inspired by the artist.

Special thanks to the Wolf Kahn Foundation for sparking the idea for this project and for supporting it! This series is part of YWP's ArtSpace project.
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