A Warm Embrace

G by Soo Hong

March 1 - April 28, 2024
Open 12 Noon to 5 PM Thursdays through Mondays
Jeanette Best Gallery
701 Water Street, Port Townsend, Washington

      From a jewel-toned series of aura paintings to mosaics evoking Shangri-La, A Warm Embrace offers art to enfold the viewer.

These works were created by five women who come from across the country and around the world. Each shows us her ways of responding to her inner and outer journey.

Two of the artists will teach Northwind Art School classes this spring! Find Xin Xin's online offerings and Neha Panicker's in-person workshop on our Take a Class page.  

Abstract painter Soo Hong has exhibited in her native South Korea, as well as in London, Shanghai and the United States. She recently said that she used to feel guilty about making art for her own pleasure.

“I came to the realization,” Soo said, “that holding onto this guilt did not improve the quality of my work. I have now fully embraced the necessity of making art, believing in total freedom and creativity ... The more I paint or create art, the stronger it becomes, and I feel alive.”

Seattle mixed-media artist Jody Joldersma has a studio in Pioneer Square. Educated at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., she’s an alumna of the Feminist Intensive program at Soapbox Inc., and a co-founder of Feminist Camp Seattle. In her narrative art, she’s inspired by her youth caught between a collapsing steel town and the rural escapism of her grandparents’ farm in the coal mountains of Pennsylvania. Jody layers her drawings, paint, and original photography on wood, leaving the construction process visible in the final image.

Naoko Morisawa was born in Tokyo, Japan, and studied at Japan’s Tama Art University. She taught art classes in her native country, and, just this January, guided a paper mosaic collage class at Northwind Art School. Since Naoko moved to the Pacific Northwest two decades ago, her works have been chosen for public art projects for cities including Seattle, Edmonds and Kent, while the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and many other places have added her work to their public collections. In A Warm Embrace, Naoko’s “On the Way to Shangri-La” creations evoke Tougenkyo, a kind of paradise or utopia. “One day, when everyone leaves this world, he/she will experience the alone journey,” she writes, “and see the mysterious route to this happy place."

Neha Panicker is an architect turned artist who is originally from India. Making art, she said, is how she embraces herself — her musings and her dreams. Into "A Warm Embrace," she brings her “Portal Fantasy” series, in which she imagines the intrigue of entering a portal and experiencing teleportation or transformation. Panicker 's “Aura” series, paintings of individuals' unique auras, will also appear in the show.

Xin Xin was born in Beijing, China, and grew up in Seattle. She worked in the corporate world for years, and then set out on an extended solo sojourn around the world. Upon returning to the Puget Sound region, Xin went to work for a local art school. She has since developed her art practice, exhibited her abstract creations across the region, and found abundant joy in teaching art to children, seniors and many students in between.

For Xin, art-making is a powerful salve for healing traumatic emotions. “When I paint, I get into this meditative zone. It's something I couldn't achieve through sitting meditation,” she said. “There are no thoughts or chatter in my mind, and I simply focus on the tip of the brush. Although physically tiring, the painting sessions give me peace.”