Barbara Flexner was approached by Jocelyn Schoenfeld, MACoM director, about exhibiting her art after attending a workshop at Or Nashim, the women’s group at Congregation Or Hadash.
Schoenfeld said, “I was fascinated by Flexner’s style and expression through neurographic art, working with the subconscious mind through drawing, and was grabbed at how vibrant and captivating her pieces were…I knew her work was a natural fit for MACoM, Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah, a sacred space for Jews to encounter ritual immersion in Sandy Springs.”
Flexner, a native New Yorker raised in Puerto Rico, studied architecture and environmental design at Kent State University. After careers in corporate architecture, artistic textiles, and directing a cultural arts center, she moved to Atlanta. In the MACoM exhibit, she reflects her Jewish views on the importance of the ebb and flow of world systems – water, the cycle of the seasons, and the cycles of our lives.
She relayed, “While these emanate from my Jewish world view, I think that they are shared universally by people of all faiths from all parts of the world.”
Nearly 20 framed pieces are for sale at the exhibit, ranging in price up to $1,500. Unframed smaller pieces are available starting at $36.
Flexner’s work communicates a love of color, shape, and texture, inviting shared explorations and how simple ingredients create infinite opportunities for reflection. She declared, “After (my use of) watercolor, the sky’s the limit. My sketchbooks have work in colored pencil, crayon, Inktense, inks, graphite, and acrylic. I also work in fiber media. My personal favorite in the exhibit is the “Flight of the Fireflies,” a technical triumph because of its size and complexity.”
Each of Flexner’s series represents a different approach. “Circular Reasoning” is painted using traditional watercolor techniques on handmade Arches paper, one of the finest substrates for watercolor. The paper is stretched, and the sizing removed before paint is applied. Some areas are masked to be saved as white, and paint is applied by brush, pouring, and blowing. Materials are applied to the wet paint to create the illusion of texture. When dry, it’s enhanced with lines and more paint.
Flexner may add ink or graphite. These paintings are executed using a limited palette of primary colors to allow for a wide range of secondary and tertiary hues.
“Hoopla!” series uses the same materials while introducing ink into the mix. The circles are hollow on white ground and mostly outlined in ink. Within the open circular shapes, there are several drawn patterns offering fillings of different designs. The perceived values are created using negative and positive spaces within the lines. As these are created by hand, precision isn’t desired.
“Magically Resonant Images (MRI)” is painted in watercolor on Arches paper with an overlay of ink and acrylic paint, creating a weblike structure highlighting different effects created by watercolors. These cells are loosely based on the system called “neurographica,” developed by Pavel Piskarev, a Russian psychiatrist, and used as a therapeutic tool to strengthen connections and relationships.
“Ebb and Flow” is created using alkyd, an oil-based paint that is the modern descendant of oil paint. The pigment is suspended in a mix of oil-based petroleum product and resin creating the high gloss durable finish. Because the paint is very heavy, these are executed on panels with raised edges. The paints take three to five days to dry enough to stop shifting. Since they don’t mix to create additional color, they “marble” enabling illusions of additional colors.
Flexner concluded, “The paintings in this exhibit allow the paint in the various media to flow. Generally, I am considered a ‘non-objective’ artist…no discernable subject represented. I use the shape of the circle as an entry point to interest viewers. Circles are familiar, recognizable objects and give the viewer an easy access point to begin exploring the paintings.”
Always creative, Flexner and her husband built an 8’ whale articulated puppet for the Or Hadash Yom Kippur afternoon reading of the book of “Job.” Next up for Flexner is threading her loom to create heirloom-quality linens and making bobbin lace trim. Flexner is active in the Dunwoody Fine Art Association, Peach State Stitchers of the Pomegranate Guild, and the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance.
Schoenfeld stated, “A mikvah isn’t the first place people think about when discussing art, but at MACoM, our gallery space is an important part of the experience. The concept of “hiddur mitzvah,” the act of beautifying or enhancing a Jewish ritual by appealing to the senses, is essential.” The exhibit will run thru July.
- Arts and Culture
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Barbara Flexner
- Jocelyn Schoenfeld
- Congregation Or Hadash
- Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah
- Puerto Rico
- Kent State University
- corporate architecture
- artistic textiles
- colored pencil
- fiber media
- Circular Reasoning
- Magically Resonant Images
- Pavel Piskarev
- Ebb and Flow
- Yom Kippur
- Dunwoody Fine Art Association
- Peach State Stitchers of the Pomegranate Guild
- Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance