The new exhibits opening this month at the Silvermine Arts Center bring together a diverse selection of female Guild sculptors and printmakers for Women's History Month. Visitors will experience a range of work, from the feminist sculptures of Jocelyn Braxton Armstrong of Westport to the fantastical figures of Marilyn Richeda and the meditative prints of Ann Chernow, Stephanie Joyce and Norwalker Constance Kiermaier.

The exhibit opens March 11 and runs through April 22. All are invited to the opening reception on Sunday, March 11 from 2 to 4 pm.

Kiermaier's exhibit, "Obsolete Elegance -- a Tribute to JWK," defines the life and times of her late husband, JWK, as he lived them. An exhibition of mixed media, the artist uses a tie as the source material.

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The tie, which can be found in each of her works, serves as a metaphor for the man and his time. Quotes from JWK evoke his personality and response to a life lived with civility, honesty and promise that defined a different time.

"Now that I am in the middle of my eighth decade, I still continue to think of art as magic, and myself as a kind of magician who through complex trickery can manipulate visual perceptions and create a dichotomy of the real and the unreal. In my lifelong exploration of this magic, as a painter and maker of boxes, collages and constructions, I find that I delight and surprise myself in the process of seeking to delight and surprise. This discovery is the ultimate enchantment."

A collagist, box maker, printmaker, painter and teacher, Kiermaier, a resident of Norwalk, grew up on a farm in Virginia. She graduated from the School of Fine Arts, Yale University and worked as a freelance commercial artist. Her work has been shown throughout the east coast, New England and New York City.

`I Am She'

Modernist ceramic sculptor, Armstrong's exhibition "I Am She," features recent figurative sculpture and installations. In this exhibition she examines issues relating to feminism, exploring the causes of gender based violence and inequality, from both a domestic and global perspective. Throughout the exhibition, she aims to inspire curiosity, thought and dialogue, to raise awareness and incite positive action that promotes feminism worldwide.

Her work is, for the most part, unglazed white porcelain. Her elegant figurative sculptures appear to be covered with delicate line drawings. These lines are used in an illustrative effect and sometimes the lines can express meaning. Of her work, Armstrong says, "Gesture is what interests me. Body language is beguiling. Gesture naturally conveys movement but can also be passive or submissive, playful or seductive, regal and proud. Gesture can tell a story. Some sculptures are motivated and methodically planned, while others are spontaneous and come from within. My most recent sculptures are more conceptual in nature, influenced by my life experiences now. I am exploring the emotions of relationships, conflict, love and family, particularly how these emotions relate to women."

`Unfolding'

Painter and printmaker Joyce's new exhibit "Unfolding" is about sacred symbols of ancient tradition that takes the viewer to the very heart of what it is to be human. Even in today's Western culture, seemingly dominated by rationalism, consumerism and constant visual innovation, shared symbols continue to shape our mental and emotional landscapes. The body of work in this exhibit incorporates signs and symbols through painting, sculpture and printmaking. "The Layers," by Stanley Kunitz, was instrumental in the unfolding of this body of work; as well as the unconscious as explored through dream journaling, and materials found in the natural world.

Of her work, Joyce says, "Nature has been manipulated through a range of materials, all of which have been transformed and repurposed so that they transcend definitions and traditions. The outcome is an art experience, which enters a mystical realm where ritual, genealogy and anthropological roots are explored."

Joyce grew up along the Little River in Virginia. She was primarily influenced by her mother, an artist, and her father's love of nature. She moved to New York City where she attended Parson's School of Design and earned her BFA. Following studies abroad in Paris, she worked as a stylist's assistant and later as a designer and colorist. After moving to North London, Joyce began to focus on fine art. She set up a studio which overlooked rooftops and the Hampstead Heath and was intrigued by the misty, moody landscape of London and the English countryside. She now resides in New Canaan, and lives on the Rippowam River, which is a constant source of inspiration for her work.

Star struck

The exhibit of works by Chernow, "Annie's Soda Fountain," is based on impressions related to movies from the 1930s and 1940s, and the iconic drugstore soda fountain. Inspired by film publicity about stars being "discovered" by a Hollywood scout and the image of a soda fountain that occurred in many movies of that genre, Chernow uses film characters and period settings as points of departure and then freely interprets.

Who could forget the image of Lana Turner sipping an ice cream soda through a straw, having been discovered at Schwab's Drugstore, as legend would have it?

The prints and drawings in this exhibit refer to actual films, studio publicity, fan magazines and other memorabilia of the golden era of Hollywood. Contemporary faces are added, but without altering the spirit of the chosen cinematic theme.

"In blending past and present images, I try to create a sense of dejà vu, or nostalgia, without the sentimentality often associated with specific film references. Depicting a universal gesture and establishing dramatic moments are primary," Chernow said.

"Once experienced, a movie is never totally forgotten. Memories from films can be channels, metaphor and private reverie through which an artist can address the human condition."

Raised in New York, Chernow experienced much of the New York art world of the 1950s and 1960s. She currently shares her time between New York City and her studio in Westport. A documentary, "Reel to Real" is being filmed about her life and her art.

Out of this world

"Whispered Warnings" is an exhibit of sculptural works by Richeda of other worldly figures. Some figures are robot-like, non-speaking, noiseless and still. Others stand confident, perhaps hiding something. Birds are portrayed as enchanting, but often showing a darker side such as feelings of loss, helplessness and being marooned. "I rarely start to work with a clear visual image of what I will create. I do, however, have an idea of what I want to explore or a feeling I want to express and keep on working until I feel it's right," said Richeda of her work. "Like all my work, they explore pattern and color. In many ways, color is the most important part of every piece I make. Color is what seduces me. Even the names of the glazes affect which ones I select."

She said that gets her inspiration for her colors from looking at painted cars and trucks on the road or from painters such as George Basselitz, Grau-Garriga and from folk art. What excites her most is the casualness and color that comes from the art of children. Her internal drive comes from the continuous process of discovery, drawing from her overall life experiences. "I see each piece as a fragment of what will eventually become a lifetime statement."

For information about these exhibits and the Silvermine Arts Center call 203-966-9700 ext. 20 or visit t www.silvermineart.org.