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Carolyn Wenning's Studies in Topophilia

Portraying images that in real life are vibrant and colorful in shades of black and gray was a happy accident

click to enlarge "Riverbed," by Carolyn Wenning - IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
Image courtesy of the artist
"Riverbed," by Carolyn Wenning

Earlier this year, artist Carolyn Wenning spent a month in Estremoz, Portugal, where she created her latest series, currently on display at her studio in Garfield. Studies in Topophilia is the title of the exhibition inspired by the Portuguese landscapes and marble quarries Wenning visited. The 10 works in the series are charcoal sketches on vellum. Turpentine was added to the charcoal, making the images more ghostly and abstract on the translucent vellum.

Portraying images that in real life are vibrant and colorful in shades of black and gray was a happy accident for the artist. She hadn't brought many supplies with her on the trip, and so was limited in materials when she began to work. She typically works with paint but found the constraint to be a spark to her creativity. The works succeed in conveying the sense and serenity of a landscape, despite little overt illustration of one.

Wenning's background includes a bachelor's degree in fine art from Carnegie Mellon University and a master's of fine art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. For a long time, she was an art teacher in the Fox Chapel School District. About 10 years ago, with Penn Avenue burgeoning as an arts corridor, she opened her current studio space. Since then, Wenning has continued to teach at Chatham University, Carlow College and elsewhere, but in recent years has made more time to focus on her art. 

During June's Unblurred, the first-Friday's art-crawl on Penn, Wenning's studio was drawing a good crowd. She's owned her studio long enough to see the event and its attendance grow, which has meant an increase in sales of her work too. 

Wenning's gallery is open by appointment and during Unblurred. The next Unblurred is July 3, when Studies in Topophilia will re-open after a short hiatus at the gallery. But Wenning says that similar works in a new series are coming soon. 

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