Mandy Howe is an artist and art teacher from Rhode Island. She is a graduate of Boston University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. After graduating from the Museum School, Mandy lived on a small homestead in Vermont. She taught in one-room schoolhouses, community centers and nursing homes while continuing to pursue her art. She has two grown children and teaches art in both independent and inner city schools.
The natural world has always inspired my work. My recent paintings depict the shoreline, where everything man-made and natural washes up. I like the accidents and movements of pouring paint and the watery randomness of the marks and textures and spaces the process creates. Often something I pick up on the beach inspires the original idea for a painting.
This series attempts to describe the “anthropogenic era” we are now in. Scientists define this new geological term as beginning with the arrival of nuclear energy and plastics: “an epoch that begins when human activities have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems.” (Smithsonian.com) I have grown up in Rhode Island and have witnessed these changes to the shoreline over time.
In my paintings I use shards of plastic, layer images with acetates, paint with acrylics, adhere things to surfaces with metallic tape and use house paints and polymers from the hardware store. I collage man-made and natural objects on to the canvas: shells, sand, pebbles, crab shells and driftwood; balloon trash, shards of aluminum, plastic netting, plastic ribbons, rope, tangles of fishing line and seaweed.
The tension between the natural life of the sea and what washes up as human litter is compelling. How to come to terms with this in paintings that honor Rhode Island’s rich seascape tradition is the challenge.