About 45,000 years ago, an ancient people in present-day Indonesia painted pigs on the wall of a cave.
They used their fingers and natural pigments to depict the animals in the Sulawesi cave and the painting is still there today. Art is, by nature, figurative. But over the centuries it has regularly oscillated between a detailed description and a looser interpretation.
Artists enjoy translating the real world through the lens of their experience and perspective.
Kristine Ziems, Fredericksburg artist and current President of the Fredericksburg Art Guild, enjoys painting abstract art which also represents some of her deepest experiences. Her show, “Figuratively Speaking,” was the feature of the art guild’s First Friday Art Walk on August 5.
“It’s an evolution for me because I started doing more pure abstraction,” Ziems said. “Then I started moving towards more abstract landscapes.”
Ziems’ landscape paintings capture the feel of a sky, trees, or meadows without specifying the exact scene.
But there were specific experiences that inspired Ziems to create the pieces featured in “Figuratively Speaking.”
“I used to work overseas and spent two years in Afghanistan,” Ziems recalls. “When the whole evacuation from Afghanistan happened, we (Ziems and her husband) were both working to get some of our people out that we had worked with.”
This period of her life marked Ziems, who wanted to create an ode to the people, places and experiences she remembered from those times.
Ziems was a lawyer by profession. His work with the State Department required traveling assignments which gave him the inspirations for his work.
Ziems was no stranger to other cultures, as both of her parents were missionaries when she was a child. She grew up overseas, but Houston was her family’s home base. After attending the University of Texas, she met her husband overseas. When he retired from the army, they found their way to Fredericksburg, desiring a small town life.
Ziems is a multimedia artist, which means that she does not limit herself to a single medium for her works. However, she mainly uses acrylic paints and oil pastels.
The pieces she showed in “Figuratively Speaking” use a more abstract approach to capture the emotion of very human moments.
A background piece vaguely depicts a photograph of two Afghan women being transported to safety while in the trunk of a car. Through color and composition, Ziems seeks to interpret the emotion of the moment.
Believing in art as an experience, Ziems kept a burqa near the painting that guests could wear to better contextualize the subject.
When Ziems returned to Texas, she devoted herself full-time to art.
“For me, there was a very distinct (moment), almost like I was coming to a stop sign,” Ziems said of quitting his legal career to start art in Texas.
“It was the start of my withdrawal, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt like I had all that time and energy.
Ziems took that energy and applied it to his canvas. The results of this work can be viewed at the Fredericksburg Art Guild or on its website at: