First published: Winter 2002
The north east of Vermont might be plainly described, written about geographically as a remote corner of a state, bordering on Canada and New Hampshire. But this telling would not reveal the power of the place, the story of its immoderate beauty in the fall, its winter serenity, and its seasonal extravagance. Places also exist in the imagination: landscapes need myth to shape and give them substance. The artist Gayleen Aiken is the mythmaking consciousness of Barre, north east Vermont, where she has lived most of her life.
The content of art orients itself along two axes, the historical and the spiritual. The historical implies not so much an engagement with the artistic past as with the unfolding quality and specificity of events in time. This is the kind of artist I first thought Gayleen Aiken was. The spiritual is a vertical quality, born of trauma and dislocation, seeking to express fundamental apprehensions unconditioned by particular circumstance. This is the kind of artist she is.