The Constellation Series 1985 – 1986
The Night Sky has always been a source of fascination. Around age nine or ten, I was given a book called Star Stories by Gertrude Chandler Warner from the Miller sisters, Veronica, Wanda and Angie, who were friends of my Mom. The patterns of the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, Orion, Hercules and the Northern Cross became familiar.
In the summer of 1975 I took a mail boat, the Laura B, from Port Clyde, Maine to Monhegan Island, twelve miles out to sea. There was no light pollution on Monhegan and for the first time I marveled at the Milky Way and the vast profusion of stars.
Another retreat during the 1970’s and 1980’s was a hamlet in Delaware County, NY. Here I watched the constellations cross the sky throughout the night. Lying on the ground, I used a flashlight to read the star maps and find the same stars above me. And in 1980 I spent a month at Millay Colony for the Arts in Austerlitz, NY, seeing views of the Night Sky unspoiled by the lights of the city.
During these years, I was painting and photographing the rapidly disappearing barns and simple clapboard farmhouses seen throughout the country; as well as the Cape Cod style homes of my neighborhood. And then, a recognition: I began to see similar shapes in the imaginary lines connecting the stars and in the geometry of houses and barns. In this Constellation Series of 1985 and 1986, the geometry of architecture and the arrangement of stars converge, a fusion occurs. These drawings now seem like a link between the heavens and the earth. There were over twenty constellation drawings, many still exist, some are lost and some are included in museum and private collections. A brochure documents thirteen of these works and was made on the occasion of my exhibition at the Hudson River Museum.
Frances Hynes, December 2020