Ilana Manolson uncovers the overlooked edges of the natural world, capturing nature’s essence in shifts of light and color. She paints momentary impressions of nature as they unfold through the various seasons. Combining realist elements with fields of color abstraction, she often depicts her subjects on the verge of change as it swings its pendulum between order and disorder. Her largescale oil paintings celebrate the unexpected vibrancy of the weedy margins of swamp and sky, the mysterious interplay of lightness and depth, growth and decay, firmness and fluidity, among unfurling fronds, fallen leaves, and elusive reflections.
Her experience as a naturalist taught her the patient and close observation of small details, which she uses to inform a larger whole. In her paintings, the complex interaction of line, light, and texture, with the permeable boundaries between the seen and the unseen, invite the viewer into a contemplative world where minute details reveal a larger truth. Manolson creates her luminous work using a specialized technique of overlaying rich color and highlights in painted layers, then selectively scratching and sanding the surface to uncover the essence and spirit of place beneath the merely visual, allowing hints to remain of what has come before. Her process, developed from elements of both painting and printmaking traditions, resonates with the ephemeral quality in nature, rediscovers hidden light, and provides a unique dimensionality. The painting is allowed, both as object and as image, to become a metaphor for transience and change.
Manolson holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design (Providence), and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Goddard College in art and education. She has exhibited extensively in North America. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (Massachusetts); the DeCordova Museum (Lincoln, Massachusetts); the Boston Public Library; and the Ballinglen Arts Foundation (Ballycastle, Ireland), as well as in many other public and private collections. She lives and works near Boston.