New exhibit opens at the Highland Center for the Arts

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A new exhibit called, “The Book of Changes: Symbolic Landscapes of the I Ching,” will be on view at the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro from December 2 through January 26. The center will host an opening reception on Tuesday, December 5, from 4 to 6 p.m.

The new show will feature 64 works by Elizabeth Nelson inspired by the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching. Ms. Nelson is best known for her images of northeastern landscapes. Her work has been shown since the late 1980s and has been presented in juried shows for nearly as long. She is represented by galleries in New York and Vermont and has won commissions for public art.

In January 2012, she started a series of “symbolic landscapes” inspired by the sixty four hexagrams of the I Ching. Incorporating chance into the procedure, she threw coins to choose a hexagram each time a painting was started and contemplated the result as she thought or dreamt an image. Her work has always referenced the landscape of northern New England and this new series continued that exploration, but with an interior dimension of symbols and geometric juxtapositions.

A friend showed Ms. Nelson the book in the mid 1960s. “The language about the symbols connected so closely to unconscious thoughts I had been having,” she said.

Describing the freedom inside of discipline, Ms. Nelson made this analogy: “If you’ve cooked a souffle, one that’s followed the rules, and have had some success, then you start changing things.”

She applies that thought to painting: “You have to keep pushing the edges of your knowledge and capabilities to grow as an artist. Completing one idea,” she said, gives one the “confidence to do a riff on it. It’s a physical skill, among other things. You have to have confidence in your skills; you keep practicing.”

For the first time all 64 of these new paintings will be on exhibit. The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, please call (802) 533-9075, or visit — from the Highland Center for the Arts.

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