Beyond Rangoon

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.”

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3 Responses to Beyond Rangoon

  1. Mimi O says:

    My son has a friend who just moved here from Burma. His father was imprisoned for his religious beliefs while the family wondered for his safety for nearly 2 months. In just one year in Princeton, this child feels more like a patriot than my veteran grandfather. He loves the re-enactments and can tell me more about the Battle of Princeton than David Hackett Fischer! Reading this blog helps me understand why this sweetheart child sometimes looks up from a playdate snack and says, “Burma is beautiful Mrs. O”

    Keep bloggin’

  2. Lucy Graves McVicker says:

    Actually, I must tell you that I have added a row of some very small Burmese people transplanting rice in the rice
    fields to that same picture. (I do this. And if I have doubts about a certain part of a picture, I’ve even taken a framed picture out of the frame and added a paint stroke or two to satisfy me. My husband thinks I’m silly, but if it bothers me, I have to do it.) Anyway, the Burmese figures are very tiny, but they are there!
    I also have to tell you that the local landscapes in this exhibition, show a concentration of water reflections. Charles and I take walks on the canal towpath frequently, and I love to see the reflections change from dawn to dusk, from summer to winter. My painting at the present Princeton Artists Alliance show is an example of that idea.

  3. Pingback: The Artful Blogger! » Open Laboratory

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