‘Twilight Haze’: Vineyard-inspired visions


Tachina Rudman-Young’s arresting exhibit is more than a visual experience. Her show, curated by Featherstone Center for the Arts at the Feldman Family Artspace in the MV Film Center, teems with arresting, nature-inspired paintings. We respond viscerally, as they come from the artist’s deep connection to her feelings and physical self. While varied in subject, style, and color, they are united by their sensuous quality, and the immediacy she creates through her gestural strokes.

“Art is in my blood,” Rudman-Young reflects, having been nurtured as a child both at home and at a public charter school where creativity was highly valued. When she was 8 years old, her stepfather had a dream she would become a ceramic artist, and enrolled her in classes. She pursued ceramics and visual art as an undergraduate and on her own.

For her, visual art and movement are intimately intertwined. Since childhood, dance has also been part of Rudman-Young’s life; she grew up in her parents’ dance studio. At 19, while taking a hip-hop class, she had a revelatory moment: “I heard the West African drums in the next studio, and something in my heart just connected to it. The combination of movement and music takes me to another place. There is nothing more than West African music that makes me feel as alive as swimming in the ocean.”

As Rudman-Young pursued ceramics, she found fulfillment in creating quick, figurative sculptures from live models. She connected clay to dance. “Art was a way to feel present when I couldn’t any other way. When I dance, I am connected to my body and my breath. I have no other worries, concerns, or need to be different. You are present, because you’re so totally in the movement.” Similarly, she found in creating her figurative work, “When I was really in the flow with a model, it was the same thing, because it was very immersive.”

Rudman-Young dove into her large-canvas painting when she first came to the Vineyard in 2013. Taking a class with Roberta Gross at Featherstone, landscapes became quick abstractions: “Ceramics is a long process. The clay has to dry. Then you have to fire it, and it kind of dies. You have to give it life again with your glazes, whereas paint is pretty immediate, especially acrylic paint, because it dries quickly.”

The Vineyard’s beauty inspired all the works in the exhibit. “Stillness” quietly opens the show, and bridges the divide between a hazy landscape and subtle abstraction. Veils of light hues suggest distant land, a body of water reflecting sky, an essence of dawn. Here and in all her art, Rudman-Young strives for authenticity, “when the painting is truly connected to how I’m feeling in the moment. I try to fully feel it and let it go. That’s the transformational process.”

“Twilight Haze,” also the show’s title, is inspired by Abstract Expressionist painter Mark Rothko. “I adore him,” Rudman-Young says. She built the luminous composition by laying down the dark pigments, adding yellows around the exterior, and finally, the vibrating pinks and magenta, which shimmer, defying the two-dimensionality of the flat canvas. The descending series of tiny squares in the right-hand corner refers to how the sun can look on the horizon line as it sets.

“Celebration” is Rudman-Young’s midday revelry between the sunrise in “Stillness” and sunset in “Twilight Haze.” The green, sweeping circles are alive. “It’s all about movement and using your body,” she says about her painting process. “In general, when I work on larger canvases, I’ll pump up the music, and find something that fits my mood at that moment.”

Rudman-Young builds her exuberant composition on top of a textured surface she creates by laying down a mixture of gesso and gel, and then running a texture tool through it to make the striations. Once it’s dry, she paints the golden background and adds the circular strokes of liquid paint. Looking carefully, you can discern that the work was originally oriented horizontally, with the dripping pigment creating the fine lines that, now that it is vertical, run from left to right across the canvas.

The artist says “Jubilation” was “pure play and fun in the making.” She textured her surface here, too, creating a wild spider’s web underneath by squeezing gel out of a bottle and covering it with aquatic greens, blues, and yellows. The final thin, black, calligraphic swirls on top are gestures that energize the composition and create a sense that the artist has just stepped away from the piece.

Two works on paper, “Windswept” and “Sea Storm,” close the exhibit. While small, they are large in intensity. “They were created in that flow state when you’re not thinking,” Rudman-Young says. She made them at the end of a painting session. “You play, you struggle, you go through class, and then I have to do something free. These were made in that moment of having five minutes left and having to use what’s on my palette. They are great because there was no effort.”

Reflecting on the show, Rudman hopes we feel “the magic of being alive as a human being on this planet, the incredible beauty of nature, and how you can go out at any moment and be awe-inspired and connected to the universe.”

“Twilight Haze” is on view at the Feldman Family Artspace in the M.V. Film Center through April 29. Feldman Family Artspace website: bit.ly/3JhaIy3. Featherstone Center for the Arts website: bit.ly/3VUZN4H. The artist website: rudmanfineart.com.