Orna Feinstein returned to Houston’s Anya Tish Gallery for her sixth solo exhibition March 17. Her latest exhibition, Asherah, continues to highlight Feinstein’s 20-year-long admiration of nature and tree rings.
Feinstein’s artwork goes through an interesting process. There’s interplay of organic and geometric patterns that can be seen in her work, and it’s a fascination with patterns seen in nature that have really given shape to her work. In turn, the process itself has served as a separate form of inspiration for her. Paper, paint, acrylic glass and even concrete work together to capture these visuals, in both two- and three-dimensional media.
“Printmaking is by far my most favorite 2D medium,” Feinstein said. “The many processes available in the field make it an endless journey of options, explorations and discoveries. Monoprints are done by pressing paper onto a plate and running it under the pressure of the press. This process allows for some surprises. Sometimes they are not so good, but often times they are incredible. These moments motivate me to explore further.”
As an Israel-born Houstonian, Feinstein has seen a successful career, having her work displayed across the country and in parts of Europe. She credits some of her creative ability to the local beauty of Houston itself.
“Houston is green year-round, and offers me endless source material and inspiration for my art. Houston is also a diverse city, and the third largest art center in the country. With many museums, art centers, galleries and non-profit organizations, there is always good art on display; as well as many places and opportunities to show art and get the necessary exposure. The collector base here is large and reputable.”
“As an innovator in the field of printmaking, I have invented my way into printing on non-traditional materials such as fabric, wooden boards and Plexiglas. At the upcoming exhibition at Anya Tish gallery in Houston, one can expect the unexpected. The show will display all new works, large-scale installation, dimensional prints and fabricated, printed Plexiglas that generates strong optical movement.”
The marriage of organic and geometric patterns can be witnessed in her art, and recreating them has been as exciting for Feinstein as finding them. There’s also fidelity toward organic themes that remain pure and close Earth, such as the use of materials that are as minimally processed as possible.
“Most of my artworks have organic and geometric visual elements. I often incorporate grids and geometric patterns into the work. As my work becomes more geometric, I stay true to my organic themes and use cotton fabrics and papers that originally came from trees. There is always a fine balance between the two – whether it’s the patterns, the movement, the material or other underlying elements.”
Her deep admiration of the tree trunk is intriguing, to say the least. The tree ring pattern has always been a point of interest for humanity. It’s exciting to witness an artist like Feinstein seize that fascination and interpret it through dedicated and intricate artwork, and the origin of her journey and her passion for the tree ring is just as interesting as her artwork.
“I always liked nature – my first memories go back to the age of six or seven. That is when I started to observe and investigate nature through patterns and seasonal changes. In 1984, I moved to Houston and I was in awe of how green the city was. I especially fell in love with the Live Oaks. In 1997, my passion for the tree theme was unstoppable. In that year, my husband and I built our home in Bellaire, Texas. We had to clear some big, old trees from the lot, and I was mesmerized by the natural patterns in the cut tree trunks. That’s when I started to make drawings inspired by the tree rings.”
Although it’s been 20 years since Feinstein first began focusing her art on the tree trunk, she hasn’t run out of ways to pay tribute. As technology propels art forward and continues to bring us more types of media and different fusions of materials to work with, Feinstein sees an infinite path of possibilities, and “at this point,” she said, “I feel like I have just scratched the surface.”