Exhibit focuses on delicate art of portraits

By Blue Greenberg

Thank heavens for the commercial gallery. Yes, they want to sell art and the artists want you to buy, but in today's economic atmosphere, that is not happening as often as it should. Yet, the galleries keep their doors open because of their love and passion for art. And the artists, who are probably moonlighting as teachers, food servers, or computer programmers, make art because they cannot live without it.

Trena McNabb, who works with near life-size figures drawn in graphite on raw canvas, surrounds them with colorful objects that describe the person or what they do. For example, in Migrant Worker, a mother holding a baby dominates a canvas where objects within and outside an implied house move vertically up the canvas. At her feet are the kitchen, children's toys, a double bed. As our eyes move to the top of the composition, we see a ramshackle house, a dilapidated trailer and a packed clothesline.

McNabb has caught the very essence of this woman, and she is able to successfully do that over and over -- whether she's conveying a Fireman with his tools, an Art Collector with her treasures or a Missionary couple surrounded by the Africans they taught. Although they seem like specific portraits, there is a universality to each because of the way she weaves the objects in and around the figures. In every canvas, we see the work of an artist who is technically sure and artistically original.

Published: March 9, 2003
Reprinted from The Herald-Sun, Durham, NC
© 2003 The Herald-Sun

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