As I gaze at the paintings of Nancy Stephani, I am transported to aboriginal dreamsongs, petroglyphs of extraterrestrials, and the primitive emergence of life under a microscope. There is a shifting of all these sensations at once, as the paint strokes vibrate on the large canvases like living matter that Nancy describes as, “…energy patterns of emotion…something fluid and malleable – a tangible artifact of a fleeting moment.”

There is a pulsing movement in the brushstrokes that ask the viewer to participate with images that amorphously enter a deep collective knowing. In her painting called “Ice Field,” a single petroglyph figure fashioned from rustic metal stands in the foreground of a globe, or hive shape, emerging and floating above the sea – rising from the abyss. The round shape is decorated with line patterns that are both labyrinth and mandala-like, while the figure becomes a witness to this primitive, cellular “event.”

Another large piece, which is constructed of two adjoined canvases that create a stylized kimono shape, is aptly titled “Poppy Kimono.” It features a close-up view of a single poppy flower that easily becomes a butterfly. The brilliant flower is suspended by a perceivable layer of dimension above Stephani’s signature mandala shape in the painting’s background. Although the background and foreground are both “active,” which has an energizing affect on the viewer, the overall feeling is hypnotic and tranquil.

Nancy’s transcendent paintings immediately remind me of our collective human psyche and our cellular beginnings, as well as our dreams and soul journeys that seem to have traversed through universes beyond space-time. That she presents this contemplation on her mandala-infused canvases, through rich colors in brush strokes that vibrate, using simple forms from nature, is truly amazing.

A collection of Nancy Stephani’s works are currently on exhibition at The Little Parrot Art Sanctuary, a new gallery located at 116 E. Chestnut St. in historic downtown Stillwater, MN. She will be a Featured Artist during Stillwater’s upcoming Art Walk, December 3-4, an event involving seven or eight art galleries. Her work will remain on exhibition through February 2011. For more information, visit www.littleparrot.com or call 651.472.5800. The Little Parrot is opened Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Althea Ennen runs The Little Parrot Art Sanctuary, which is part of The Compass Center for Healing [www.compasshealing.com] - a collaborative of practitioners in the healing arts. The art gallery features works that are nature based, spirit journey or dream inspired - peace-filled. Most of the artists are regional, and the artwork includes pottery, painting, glass, jewelry, photography and textiles. Althea - artist, folk musician and songwriter - received a BFA from The University of Wisconsin in River Falls. Her emphasis is in fibers and glass, also in religious art.

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