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Gallery Reception: Maunderings by Tonya D. Lee


Maunderings is a series of paintings steeped in intersecting research from my academic and artistic pursuits. While researching memory and student learning behaviors, I discovered Jackie Andrade’s publication on working memory titled “What does doodling do?”. In her 2009 research, it was observed that participants of a controlled study who doodled while listening to a surprise mock telephone message recalled significantly more information than those who did not doodle. For nearly fifteen years, my work has been deeply reliant on mark-making and so I found myself filtering the results of her study through my studio practice. At the time, I was working on a body of paintings and drawings that explored the varied interpretations of place that are created through the fluidity of memory. Andrade’s research helped contextualize mark-making as a tool to improve how I retain information on the subjects I would later paint; rather than just a tool to illustrate the subjects. It was this new approach to mark-making that was the genesis of Maunderings. While researching ancient Greek ruins in 2016, I sat in the shadows of my subjects and allowed myself to doodle. Repeating the same mark over and over, hoping to reduce the desire to daydream, as Andrade had hypothesized. The goal being to use my mark as an aid to keen observation. My mark is a trained mark-a continuous-line hatch of sorts. Repeating my mark became a new way of taking in the subjects I wanted to paint. Much like family photographs, the resulting drawings are deeply personal. They are imprinted with a tangled set of memories about place and time that I believe to be a direct result of the mark-making process. Returning to my studio after Greece, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of protecting the personal connection I had with the drawings from my travels because of the associated memories. Rather than making paintings from the drawings as planned, I developed a process of using digital and analog methods to construct compositions from the drawings. The paintings in Maunderings are developed through a process that uses digitally scanned areas from my travel drawings from various regions in France, Spain, Greece, North Carolina and California. The Revolution Mill exhibition of Maunderings includes a set of paintings created from drawings made in the spruce fir forest of the Roan High Knob in North Carolina’s Unaka Range. Made while teaching a color theory concentrationat the historic Penland School of Craft, the paintings favor patterns and colors that are unique to the region.


I am a painter working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My work has been exhibited extensively throughout the U.S. including Monmouth University, Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, The Weatherspoon Museum of Art and J. Johnson Gallery. I was a resident at Penland School of Crafts and The Wooden Walls. I have an extensive background in higher and adult education which includes Adjunct Instructor in Visual and Performing Arts at Fairfield University, Instructor at Penland School of CraftsAdjunct Instructor in the Art and Design Department at Monmouth University, and Assistant Professor of Art Foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I hold a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art and Bachelor ofArts in Art History from the University of North Florida. My gallery affiliations include Parlor Gallery in Asbury Park, D.M Allison in Houston and Tempe Digital. A native of Florida,I was raised on the salt of the Atlantic foam by a shark tooth hunter and a mythmaker.