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de Saisset artist ignites imagination with a blowtorch

At the de Saisset Museum this spring, images of plants and sea life will take on an almost calligraphic form. An exhibition of works by Bay Area artist Mirang Wonne called “Fire Script,” which will run from April 10 to June 15, will showcase the artist’s subtle blend of representation and abstract design.

Wonne’s work can appear from a distance to look like delicate swaths of silk adorned with a sort of calligraphy. However, a closer look reveals an unusual technique. Wonne begins with a stainless steel mesh screen as her surface. Rather than using paints or pencils, she uses a blowtorch to make marks on the screen. “When the stainless steel heats up, chemical reactions happen,” said Lindsey Kouvaris, curator of exhibits and collections at the de Saisset Museum. “It leaves a darker mark and a rainbow patina behind.”

The show is called “Fire Script” because the marks, made with fire, resemble calligraphy. “They have a kinship to the sumi ink traditions of her ancestors,” Kouvaris said.

The exhibition will have a combination of screens hanging from the ceiling and wall-mounted pieces.

Also on exhibit through June 15:

  • “Building Forward/Looking Back" highlights the contributions of Paula Z. Kirkeby to the de Saisset Museum. For more than 30 years, she has shared her time, her resources, and her connections with the museum, helping build the museum’s permanent collection through personal gifts, financial contributions, and her network of collectors and artists. This exhibition highlights some of the gifts that have come to the de Saisset Museum through Kirkeby.
  • "New Passages" challenges visitors to think about navigation, migration, time keeping, and travel. Featuring more than 20 pieces, the majority of which have not been shown previously, Bay Area artists Mari Andrews and Ann Holsberry worked separately, but on parallel paths to give visual form to the idea of "passage." The pieces are both personal and universal. Andrews’ pieces are sculptural in form, while Holsberry’s works are two-dimensional.

images top to bottom: Mirang Wonne at work in her studio; Paula and Phillip Kirkeby viewing Bruce Conner's Go Ask Tucker (1961); Mari Andrews, Stoneswirl (2014) stone and found metal, Courtesy of Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, Oakland. Ann Holsberry; Navigating by Stars 2 (2014) Cyanotype, gouache, and encaustic on paper mounted on panel, Courtesy of the artist

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