Creative Arts Workshop
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Creative Arts Workshop features the new work of the winners of the 2008 national exhibition Painting as Presence, juried by William Bailey, Kingman Brewster Professor of Art Emeritus, Yale University.  Recent work by Helen Byler (West Haven, CT) and Carrie Mae Smith (West Tisbury, MA) will be exhibited in the CAW Hilles Gallery from January 16 to February 6 with an opening reception on Friday, January 16 from 5 to 7 pm.  An I Break for Art! talk with the artists will be held on Wednesday, January 28 at 12:30 pm.  The public is invited to attend.

This prizewinners exhibition, Helen Byler and Carrie Mae Smith, will exemplify the emphasis of Painting as Presence, which sought “to bring life and presence from inert materials,” according to Mr. Bailey.  Mr. Bailey selected Byler and Smith from the seventy-nine artists that were included in Painting as Presence in 2008, out of the nearly four hundred artists from across the country that submitted entries to the show.




“A good painter must depict two principle things to paint: namely, man and the intention of his mind” - Da Vinci

How does the commonplace become extraordinary, the subtle become sublime?

Subject is inseparable from object transcending the material world while at the same time maintaining it, as one cannot separate the body from the mind.  Through the transformation of my work I express ideas about beauty and intimacy, love and painting:  the nameless color of a shadow, a piece of clothing twisting and turning along the lines of the figure, forms within and around the features of a face, blurry edges and exaggerated color of a photographic print, a likeness, myself in relation to the mirror and the camera, a screen door belonging to the house where my mother raised her children, a field of grass, the perspective of a six year old child photographing her father for the first time, a gesture of playful vanity, variations of the color black, colored marks of paint and the spatial illusion they imply, light on the forehead of my boyfriend thinking, a moment in the life of a happy dog. I depict my subject evoking private thoughts, desires, passions, and sensuality. For me, portraits are more than capturing a likeness of someone.  I think of them as figure paintings of the head.

The discovery of the figure for both geometry and metaphor is a natural progression from one work to the next. Thanks to the camera and many years of study from life, I can explore my subject without stiff poses. The photographs become captured memories of fleeting moments in my daily life.  They are not set up but spontaneous and objects unto themselves.  As I work directly from these souvenirs I articulate relationships between subject and object often working with scale changes and actual size, or repetition of imagery in order to revisit the joy of making a particular painting.  I consider realism, the Renaissance painters, conceptualism and expressionism to be the major influences in my attitude towards painting. My work is a conversation that I’m having with my subject, the viewer and historical and contemporary art references.  In my work there is often potential for movement, change and humor.



Intention.  Line and color must be struck with intention.  Not necessarily knowing the outcome, but working with deliberate intention towards a sense of something, a feeling, an idea, a sense of purpose.

With deliberation I work to provoke thought, with out commanding a singular response.  Painting everyday objects, things that we live with and don't give much thought to.  I invite the viewer to rest on, or meditate on the simplicity of the present, like a repose, a moment to be quiet and find contentment. Presenting an opportunity to calm the mind from its constant flow of thoughts.

Focusing on form and light, my paintings tend to be more suggestive than definitive. I am interested in investigating space through perspective and the architecture of line. I work to give the paintings a life of their own, to be convincing and to have a sense of presence.





2008: Nicholas Kripal, Judit Varga, and Nicholas Wood, Prizewinners of the 2007 National Exhibition Ceramic Abstraction: Exploration and Evidence, with juror Paula Winokur


Helen Byler
Carrie Mae Smith

Jan 16 - Feb 6, 2009

View the new work of the prizewinners of Painting as Presence, the 2008 National Exhibition with juror William Bailey.

Opening Reception Friday, January 16, 5 to 7 pm

I Break for Art! Artist Talks: Wednesday, January 28, 12:30 pm



HELEN BYLER (West Haven, CT) is a faculty member in the Drawing & Painting department at Creative Arts Workshop.  She holds a BA from Hampshire College and has studied at The New York Studio School, Yale University, and The Hartford Art School.  Byler has had numerous solo and group exhibitions and she is represented by the Geaorge Billis Gallery in New York and Los Angeles.

CARRIE MAE SMITH (West Tisbury, MA) grew up in New England, daughter of a butcher. Although determined to be an artist it took years of unconventional travel to lead her to formal studies. Smith always traveled with a sketchbook and drew avidly, capturing mostly pastoral landscapes and historic architecture. In addition to sketching the environments she experienced she learned to milk goats and play the fiddle in Connemara, Ireland, picked grapes in the Pyrenees and Swiss Alps, and assisted in the renovation of a stone house in a village in rural Spain. Her passion for painting culinary treasures and landscape arose from her travels and migrant farming, as well as working as a private chef during the summers on Martha's Vineyard. 

After several years of living between Martha's Vineyard and abroad, she moved to Philadelphia to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  She completed the Certificate Program in 2005 winning many awards, including the J.Henry Schiedt Memorial Travel Scholarship, The Pennsylvania Governors Award, and The Faculty Award.

She enjoys a passion for food and paints still lives of culinary treasures. Her love and appreciation of historic structures and rural landscapes remain constant subjects in her work.  Her style has been described as "Painterly Realism" and atmospheric.  She is represented by Etherington Fine Art on Martha's Vineyard and The Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia. She currently lives and works on Martha's Vinyard, MA.


Creative Arts Workshop   80 Audubon Street   New Haven, Connecticut 06510   p) 203.562.4927   f) 203.562.2329