Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the studio of Alison Moyna Greene. She lives in a quirky house in a historic neighborhood in Kansas City. Two aspects of her personality are evident when approaching her home: she is an avid gardener and an avid collector. Both of these pastimes, it turns out, are also relevant to her studio work.
I have been following Greene on Facebook for some time, and admiring her Thorn Mandala paintings. Seeing her intricate handiwork in person and hearing her describe the process gave me a new level of appreciation. The thorns are collected mostly from her own garden, painted by hand in various matte and iridescent acrylic colors, organized in jars, and later applied to ink-stained wood panels. The thorns are arranged on the panels according to Greene’s interest in geometric patterns and systems. The concentric compositions resemble Hindu and Buddhist mandalas, appropriate since she tells me that the series is “all about healing.”
When asked about her influences, Greene takes me into the next room to show me a luscious late 19th- or early 20th-century portrait of a mysterious woman. The panel, stored in a barn for many years and damaged by the elements, is now in the care of Greene’s partner, Nathan Sutton. He cleans the painting while Alison Greene restores the frame. She explains that while she is usually influenced by contemporary artists, the conservation business has led to a renewed interest in traditional painting. Still, she cites conceptual artist Tom Friedman, and sculptor Louise Bourgeois, and fabric artist extraordinaire Lee Bontecou, amongst others, as her most formative inspirations.
Before I leave, Greene gives me a tour of some of her favorite collections, including eggshells, seashells, cactus spurs, and much more. Recently, a tree collapsed in her yard during a thunderstorm. This, surprisingly enough, was a windfall for the artist, who had recently embarked upon a branch-collecting endeavor with the hopes of building a giant bird’s nest in her garden. Greene views everyday objects as potential art materials, seeing the world with the fresh perspective and energy of a truly innovative artist.
One can certainly see how her work as Co-Owner, Framing and Installation Specialist, and Conservation Technician at Sutton Greene LLC has informed the level of detail, structure, and craftsmanship in Alison Moyna Greene’s Thorn Mandala series. I am very excited to include her painting Midnight in the upcoming YWAs: Young Woman Artists exhibition at Wonder Fair in Lawrence. The show opens this Friday, June 27 and runs through August 24.