Gina Werfel (1979)

Bones Beach, oil on linen, 28" X 40", 2005
English Mills, oil on linen, 30" X 40", 2005
Montecastello, oil on linen, 30" X 40", 2005
Olive Groves, oil on linen, 24" X 18", 2005
Tiber Landscape, oil on canvas, 100 cm x 70 cm, 2005

My class at Columbia was a very diverse group of artists who challenged our professors to think more broadly about the parameters of art, particularly during our thesis show. I worked with David Lund and Leon Goldin, and visiting critics Stephen Green and Wolf Kahn. I much preferred my studio in the second year in Dodge Hall, where I felt more a part of Columbia. I enjoyed my studies outside of the department, in particular, the Art History courses. I was always struck by how under known the MFA program was within the Columbia community and what a contrasting picture that is with today's program. My work in painting consisted of landscape paintings done outdoors in the Columbia neighborhood, giving me a vivid sense of the distance between the two worlds of academia and the community.

The landscape serves as a starting point for a painting about space and energy. I am not interested in traditional depictions of reality, but rather search for motifs that elicit tension between chaos and structure. The work is about boundaries-the relationship of man-made structures to the landscape as well as the tension/boundary between representation and abstraction. In my years of painting from direct observation outdoors, I have worked to combine elements of the European landscape tradition with subjects typical of America-urban and suburban landscapes as well as natural motifs in Maine, California and the Southwest. My approach is painterly and open-ended, influenced by Abstract Expressionism and by early American modernists such as Marin and Hartley. Recently, my painting has moved in a more improvisatory direction, drawing on the motif as a source for abstract forms.