Resa Blatman is a visual artist who works with varying media including large-format art installations, drawings, and paintings. Her studio practice also consists of public art commissions that speak to nature, science, and beauty.
She recently completed the following permanent, public art installations: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston; the City of Hope Lennar Foundation Cancer Center, California; Denver Health, Colorado; Texas A&M University, Texas. Resa’s paintings are in collections at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia; Twitter; Fidelity; Hilton Hotel; The WH Ming Hotel, China; and in the UAE and Europe.
She exhibits her work at universities and art institutions throughout the U.S. and in September 2023, her paintings will be included in an exhibit titled “Bats!” at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts. Resa is a 2023 recipient of The Mass Cultural Council grant; the City of Somerville recovery grant, and a Mount Auburn Cemetery Artist’s Residency Award (2023-2024). An interview of Resa’s work related to climate change will be featured in Boston University’s College of Fine Arts Magazine's Spring 2023 issue.
Her work has been reviewed and featured in numerous other publications; a few of these articles and a podcast can be found at resablatman.com. Resa’s work is represented by Childs Gallery, Boston.
"Informed by a rich history of painting and contemporary artmaking processes, my projects also call on poetry, science, and nature. By employing intangible concepts such as skies and clouds, combined with attention-to-detail, delicately painted moments, I make work about the shifting climate that is unpredictable, yet captivating and beautiful. Beauty is a key ingredient in my toolbox, and I harness it by blending my reverence for nature and the mysteries of the universe to compose evocative, experiential mixed-media installations, and paintings and drawings of trees, coral reefs, animals, birds, and plant life. Along with beauty, I explore humanity’s conflict with the natural world in ways that are contrary yet compelling. Using materials made of the Earth, such as gold leaf, graphite, ink, and oil paints, and human-made materials, such as plastics, I construct works that seemingly complement and oppose themselves to underscore our human contradictions and vulnerabilities. This work also provides a positive and inquisitive encounter through its meditative mark-making, color, subject matter, layering, and the striking way that art can subconsciously reach us and alter our thinking for greater inspiration, empathy, and love."
Tell us a little about yourself (where you are from) and your background in the arts.
I was born in Long Beach, New York, and when I was 10, my parents and I moved to Florida. I stayed there until the age of 20 and then left to go back to New York to experience living in the City. After a couple of years in NYC, I sold all of my belongings and moved to Florence, Italy, where I attended Studio Art Centers International, and worked as a mask maker for another two years. Eventually, I made my way back to the U.S. and settled in the Boston area, where I've been ever since. I met my husband, Stefan, here and we've been together for 36 years (!!). We live a simple life with our cats in Somerville, Mass.
Up until recently, I was a volunteer at a local farm where I mucked the barns, fed the animals, lugged bales of hay, etc, it was hard but rewarding work, and now I'm a hospice volunteer for a lovely woman who just turned 100 years old! I also practice (low-impact) Parkour with the local Parkour community three times a week; it's loads of fun and it keeps me on my toes! I first went to art school at Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, and a year at SACI in Florence. After a few years of scraping together a living in Boston, I decided to go back to college at MassArt, where I earned a BFA in graphic design.
About 10 years later I went to Brandeis and Boston University for my MFA in painting. Throughout college and while painting, I taught graphic design at MassArt for 13 years, and I made a living as a freelance designer. Eventually, I left teaching and graphic design and decided to commit all of my time to painting. The choice was right for me then, and my art career has been filled with many highs and lows, and lots of flat areas when little happened, but with a lot of persistence, I have carved a niche for myself in the art world.
That said, I honestly believe there are many things that artists can do to fulfill their lives — not everything has to revolve around art making; there is a world of adventure, challenges, doing for others, and joy that we can experience. We can enrich our lives by doing simple, yet meaningful things, and also pursue our destiny to make art if we choose to continue.
What kind of work are you currently making?
I was awarded an artist's residency at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which takes place over one year. I'm thrilled to be able to spend so much time in such a magnificent place where I can sit with the trees, and ruminate with the dead (if you don't know about Mt. Auburn, please look it up online to see the beautiful landscape and light, the trees, headstones, etc). I've already started my project by making small paintings of trees and plants, and soon I'll begin a large-format painted installation to accompany the small works.
What is a day like in the studio for you?
My studio days generally start with a few hours of responding to emails, working on applications for public art projects, writing grants, and applying for residencies. I try not to do that every day, as it takes a lot of time and energy, but like many of us, our work lives are computer-based, and a lot of research for my paintings is done on the computer.
I rarely check email or social media when I'm at the studio, but I'll use my laptop for image searches or various information related to my work. Once I clear off the decks, I'm able to paint uninterrupted while I listen to stories on the radio and go into that enjoyable meditative headspace that is art-making.
What are you looking at right now and/or reading?
Whenever in doubt, I refer back to the Hudson River School painters, Edo/Japanese screen painting, installation artists, and abstract painters for reassurance in texture and form. Currently, I'm looking at contemporary painters whose exhibition news pops up in my inbox. If I like what I see, then I delve into their gallery's website to learn more about their work.
My work is nature-inspired but it's not specifically about landscapes, instead, it's an abstracted version of humanity existing in nature, and also the way my subconscious imagines the world, so I like looking at all kinds of artwork for inspiration, and for fun, in fact, sometimes I watch painting videos on YouTube to varying approaches to painting; it's fascinating to see how other artists make their work. There is more than one way to be a painter.
I'm currently reading 'Braiding Sweetgrass' by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Where can we find more of your work?
Forthcoming exhibition: "Bats!" at the Peabody Essex Museum, opening September 9, 2023