Artist S. Manya Stoumen-Tolino creates visual magic with complex allegorical paintings based on change and cycles of life. See more of her portfolio on her website.
Is it too much to try to express this experience of living? Probably! Nevertheless, since I was playing with Crayolas on the floor, I have been chasing this impulse. I produced gestural works full of the energy of living while recalling the inheritances contained within each moment of it.
As far back as art school (Philadelphia College of Art/University of the Arts and the Graduate School of Fine Arts UPenn), I have been driven to create worlds that appear to move and evolve.
Often, I rely on intuitive feedback as I feel my way from one action to the next. While not in a religious sense, the work is spiritual. They tap into magic that goes beyond my moment and conscious understanding.
The work often feels like a portal. When deeply immersed, I am free to respond to the visions that bubble up. While recognizable forms appear and disappear, it is the feeling of them that I am interested in expressing.
As Picasso stated, “If I paint a wild horse, you might not see the horse… but surely you will see the wildness.” Underscoring and sharing deep experience in language-less terms is much more important to me than its rendering.
I am most concerned with the organic life and thus, the most important qualities of organic life. These are change, evolution and the cycles that we share from birth to death to renewal, etc. Frequently the layers in my work represent the history of the event expressed with all of the actions leading up to the finished work either evident or felt. In telling these life stories, the work can behave allegorically, but are more often than not a way of whispering, “What do you feel?”
I often work in series returning to the same strategy, form or compositional element. I think of these series as families. Each piece is a unique individual, separate and distinct, with undeniably shared blood, bones and history.
Within all of it’s minute and vast expressions, I am fascinated with the idea that life is in a constant state of flux and subject to forces and effects predominantly unknown. As such, many of my works are influenced by the life forms around me. Humans, birds, flora and fauna all figure prominently in the works, but show themselves in improbable and sometimes not immediately recognizable ways.
I think it is increasingly more critical that we learn to be attentive, to listen to the life forms around us. The works are an invitation to join me in merely experiencing the movement in life.