Steaming buckets of soapy water are poured over a blanket, which is “rolled repeatedly to allow the…fibers to interlock”— like a fabric version of an Impressionist painting—in the large felted wool compositions of Pamela Husky.
This process, together with the lake and river subjects of many of her creations, makes “Water Works,” the title of her show at the Oklahoma State Capitol, 2300 N Lincoln Blvd., particularly apropos.
A former 20-year art faculty member at the University of Central Oklahoma before her retirement in 2002, Husky works at her home-studio on the shore of Lake Eufaula, inspired by the “beauty in every hour and season.”
White, swirling waters, accented by curls of silk, rush diagonally downward across the horizontal picture plane, blanked by boulders and forest vegetation, in Husky’s “River II,” for example. Equally alluring are compositions in which a quiet body of water becomes a “Sky Mirror” (reflecting the shore behind it as well), and the lake at “Quartz Mountain” captures crags and scudding clouds like a looking glass.
Water becomes more abstract and almost a state of mind, in which bits of fabric read as “Red Fish,” at least in the viewer’s imagination, in her work of that title. Husky offers us a tantalizing glimpse of jewel-like bluegreen waters in the distance, through a stand of white trees that stand out from the surface, in “Lake in Aspens.”
The vertical trunks of an “Aspen Field,” cut off at the top, stand out even more prominently, accented by dark evergreens, and a pale, blue-white sky behind them, in another outstanding compositon. Nor is water necessary for Husky to work her visual magic, with the sheer glowing colors and rhythmic air currents of the sky behind gnarled trees replacing it, in a work she calls, simply, “Sunset.” Offering a nice change of pace from her framed, felted wool wall hangings are a rag-strip tapestry and a double-weave rug, woven from the old army uniforms of the artist’s father, retired army Col. Robert M. Saunier.
In the tapestry, a bald “Eagle,” with wings raised, soars over a mountain landscape, done in muted tones of green, gray and brown, with military pins and metal bars attached to one side of it. Even more understated yet effective are the predominantly dull green, brown, tan and black rectangular shapes, accented with pink-red and other colors, found in “Dad’s Army Rug.” Set to open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 18, the show sponsored by the Oklahoma Arts Council, is highly recommended during its run through Feb. 10 in the capitol’s East Gallery.
Hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Call 521-2931 or visit the website at www.arts.ok.gov for information.