Friendships forged in fires of imagination shared in exhibit

Five years ago, four artists from San Diego began a relationship that carried over into their personal and professional lives. The community is invited to join in the discourse of that relationship and all its nuances, shifts, exchanges of ideas, emotions and energy in a collaborative exhibit titled “Dialogue” at Geisel Library at UCSD.

“We’ve gone through a number of titles just trying to find a short but accurate verbal description of what our relationship was,” said Lisa Olson, one of the four artists in the show. “We talked about intersections and different geometrical terms.”

Judith Christensen is another of the artists.

“We talked about a lot of different titles,” Christensen said, “‘Parallels,’ ‘Connections‚' ‘Intersections.’ We realized it is an ongoing dialogue, and that was our relationship.”

The group also includes Sally Hagy-Boyer and Kathy Miller.

The four became acquainted as board members for the San Diego Book Arts organization. They began spending time together as a group. On weekends, they would travel to local art shows. They shared their work and taught each other different techniques.

“There just seemed to be a lot of energy at those meetings,” Olson said.

That energy fed into each artist’s work, bringing new ideas, themes and methodologies.

The idea for the joint show came from the relationship between the artists’ work and the aesthetic similarities, Olson said.

“It’s a beautiful exhibition of four prominent San Diego artists,” said Lynda Corey Claassen, director of the Mandeville Special Collections Library at UCSD. “Individually, the works stand by themselves, but the collaboration is spectacular.”

Christensen describes the exhibit as quiet work.

“It doesn’t shout at you,” she said. “You have to spend some time with it. Sometimes we place an emphasis on the big things in life: birth, marriage, death. But sometimes it’s really the small things that weave the fabric of our life together.”

The collection demonstrates visual and thematic commonalities. Their work explores issues such as memory, nature and culture, and is communicated through tactile, multi-dimensional creations.

“We have some commonalities and some differences,” Christensen said. “A couple of us deal with language, a couple with place and nature, some with patterns. But not all of us do it all.”

Sharing craft techniques is one element that brings the artists together, Christensen said. For example, there are many ways to use wax in art work. One of them might ask another if they have ever tried a certain technique.

Christensen said she has learned more about her own work through the similar sensibilities of her fellow artists.

“They have a certain distance that I don’t have,” she said. “They can be more insightful.”

Paper is the primary medium for Christensen. She focuses on themes of memory, a sense of place, belonging,