Everything Changes in life and art

Everything Changes! is the upcoming exhibition featuring en plein air (outdoor painting) works by Shifra Gassner.

The paintings were created by Shifra over a year of setting up outside and observing the land and sea-scapes of Raglan.

“I started making up landscapes from my head. Then I copied masters from books. By the time summer came, it became clear the virus (Covid) was not transferred easily outdoors. Being outside became the safe place to be. My son fished while I painted. It was the perfect duet.”

Some of the changes in Shifra’s life were momentous; a visit to Raglan from the United States for her son to spend time with his father was extended due to Covid.

“We came to New Zealand to experience the world without Covid, but of course that all changed. I continued to paint every day outside. I learned how to paint in the rain, wind, in intense sun, near cows, with insects, and curious dogs.”

Before coming to New Zealand, Shifra had been teaching in Iowa and in March 2022 when spring break started school just never went back.

“I taught science by way of crafts in a children’s museum, in afterschool and holiday programmes. My closets were full of art materials. With everything changing now, this became the moment to make art. To just do it.”

“When I paint a scene, I try to represent the one thing that attracted me to the scene truthfully. I wait for the light to change throughout the day, the tides to change detectably every three hours, the color to change in each season. Once I’ve captured the wonders and composition, I complete my work indoors.”

Shifra says the beauty of nature transcended the stress that change can bring, and painting became a form of release and activism. 

“It has been a beautiful experience to have been outside painting every day in Raglan. Being outside still feels protected from Covid. Being outside in awe of nature motivates me to fight for the Earth. At some point the global crisis will change from Covid to Climate Crisis. As I closely observe, the contours of the hill, the angle of the limestone outcroppings, the shadow between the rocks that the receding tide has revealed, the shape of tree clusters, I know the impacts of climate change are about to change the landscape. Landscaping painting is my activism. It is a way to peacefully be with nature and enjoy being alive on planet Earth.”

Everything Changes!  A year of landscapes from around the Whaingaroa Harbour. 

At the Raglan Old School Arts Centre, April 29 to May 27, 2022