It’s not exactly that Lucy Graves McVicker went kicking and screaming to Burma, but the idea of cramming into an airplane seat for a full day’s worth of travel to a country led by a military regime that incarcerates journalists and tourists, where it isn’t safe to eat raw vegetables — well, let’s just say she had some second thoughts.
“I’d never even been to Hawaii or Japan,” says Ms. McVicker, whose paintings will be hanging at the Coryell Gallery at the Porkyard, 8 Coryell St., Lambertville, Oct. 15 to Nov. 16. The exhibit will feature paintings based on her travels to Burma, where “I fell in love with the lime-green fields of colors, people bending over in rice fields against the mountains, girls bathing in rivers.”
Ms. McVicker was an artist-in-residence at the former Montgomery Center of the Arts, when one of her students, Lois Young, co-founder of the Newgrange School in Trenton, ran annual trips to Burma. “It was all she talked about, how beautiful Burma was, and I stood up and with great determination said ‘I’m going,'” recounts Ms. McVicker.
“Once we crossed over the mountains into Burma, we entered this beautiful quiet land where men wore saris and women carried baskets of bananas on their heads,” says Ms. McVicker. “There are no overweight people because they eat so many vegetables. The food was wonderful — we ate a lot of curry on rice — we just had to be careful to drink bottled water and not eat raw vegetables.”
As for the censorship of her e-mails, Ms. McVicker said it was easy to just write nice things — “The land was beautiful, it was astounding how nice and sweet and good these people were. We went to glass blowing workshops, a handmade silk factory, a pottery workshop. Burma is famous for its marionettes and lacquerware, and we went to beautiful temples and pagodas.” She came home laden with silks and jewels.
Ms. McVicker, a member of the Princeton Artists Alliance who has won numerous awards, had worked mostly in watercolor, acrylic and mixed media before Burma, but has since branched into oil, creating watery images on canvas of rice fields, bridges, sunsets. “My ‘weakness’ is an addiction to experimentation with various media,” she says. “Principles of color and design honed as a watercolorist can be applied to oil painting and photography.”