For the next few months, the Yale Environmental Science Center will examine the Earth’s core elements with paper and paint.
“Many Voices, One Song,” which opened Friday at the Yale Environmental Science Center, showcases the work of abstract painter Ava Orphanoudakis, focusing on her love for nature and her concern for the environment. Orphanoudakis said her primary interest rests on the internal connection between people and nature, a foundation complemented by her work in environmental education.
“I’m interested in how the bits all communicate with each other in an ecological system,” Orphanoudakis said. “It’s a contemplative process where I try to feel internally the forces, music and patterns that connect everything together in nature.”
Consisting of ink, oil and pastel works on recycled paper, the 23 pieces in the exhibition depict natural elements such as fire, earth, wind and water. The pieces are grouped by element, Orphanoudakis said. She added that she includes a general theme in all of her series, and the creative process for this collection consisted largely of introspection.
Featured alongside the artwork are various quotes and poems from famous historical figures, including Aristotle and Albert Einstein, as well as personal friends of the artist. Orphanoudakis said this is the first time she has included textual accompaniments in an exhibition, adding that the poems serve as transitions between the natural elements that she explores in the show. She explained that the writings also provide hints to the viewers on her own perspective toward the artwork.
“Most of the authors I’ve chosen are writers who have inspired me,” Orphanoudakis said. “Often many of the feelings and thoughts I get in my artwork are from not only nature, but from people, writing, music and philosophy that has inspired me, and I wanted to be able to share that with others.”
After moving to Greece in 1990, Orphanoudakis returned to the United States in 2000. Since then she became a member of both the Guilford Art League and the New Haven Paint and Clay Club.
“Her art is very spiritual, very much connected with ecological subjects,” said Sheila Kaczmarek, president of the Guilford Art League. “I really like the latest work in the Peabody and I find the large pieces especially compelling.”
Having been an artist for more than 25 years, Orphanoudakis said her respect, love and concern for the environment has been the source of inspiration for all of her paintings. Outside of her work as a visual artist, Orphanoudakis has also worked for the Yale Peabody Museum and was the project manager of a collaborative environmental education project between the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and the National History Museum of Crete.
“Many Voices, One Song” will be on display through Dec. 18.