During the Pandemic: A Conversation with artist, Gillet Page

 
   
 
 
 
 
Written by: Francesca Sinnott
 
Gillet Page has been a member artist with Co|So for the past four years. During the Coronavirus pandemic she has been busy. Ensconced at her home and studio in Kennebunk, the sculptor has been preparing for a one-woman show at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm that was to open on June 5th, but has now been postponed.  She has shown her versatility by creating art that will work within the confines of the space (50 feet of it wall space), creating 30 drawings, silkscreen prints and colorful paper collages with only two sculptures, one in alabaster. For the Wells Reserve show, Gillet wants her works to celebrate the research that the conservation center does on behalf of endangered aquatic and land animals.
  
Pictured: Gillet Page, from left to right; Endangered Cottontail; Freed Seal
 
Separate from her work for the exhibit, Gillet is also working on a collage that explores the dark side of the pandemic. For she says “like war…it is not good for the children…. nor for other living things…none of us (artists or any human) can be the same in this situation”.
 
Gillet attributes her skills in varied media to her studies at the Art Students League, the San Francisco Art Institute, the Maine College of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design and the Vermont Studio School, among others and through her teaching. She describes as life changing, her first sculpture class as a Senior in college at Vassar with Italian artist Concetta Scaravaglione, renowned for her monumental figurative sculptures and recipient of the Prix de Rome. It was in that class that Gillet developed an appreciation for sculpture as an art form. Concetta did not speak a lot of English but she was very animated and she encouraged Gillet to continue her studies at the famed Art Students League of New York where she eventually took Studio based “atelier” night classes and was exposed to phenomenal talent that inspired her and changed her outlook.  
 
Pictured: Gillet Page
 
Co|So recently sent a challenge to member artists during this pandemic to examine and take on the work of another Co|So artist they admire, and copy it incorporating their own view of the subject, using their preferred materials.  Gillet chose Edvard Munch’s self-portrait, “Between The Clock and The Bed”. In recreating the work using paper, Gillet acknowledged that she learned a few things: “the space in the painting is very tight, many layers”, “every angle that he paints is quite extreme” and she added, laughing “Munch definitely had a few possible lost loves whose images are visible in the open closets in the background”.
 
Pictured: Gillet Page, Co|So Stay At Home Challenge
 
In talking about her process of sculpting, Gillet describes how she enjoys working with clay, bronze, wood, limestone and alabaster, though she finds clay much easier to work with and likes how it can be remolded and brought to life again, even if broken. Clay serves as a foundation for creating a bronze, and then it is also lovely as a terracotta form that is glazed. She lovingly manipulates the material by hand, creating images of nature: small creatures whose lives are bordering on extinction (the Hawksbill sea turtle and the Cottontail rabbit), and more recently, she has taken an interest in creating abstract human torsos out of stone. She is currently working on a “hero” of stone, a torso that looks like it “washed up on a Greek aisle”. Most of her sculptures are 16”x18”x10”, some more compact than others. She prefers working on several sculptures at one time, sometimes working in a group setting and often outside, when the weather permits, because of all of the carving and sanding involved.  She believes strongly in the benefits of the group experience over one-on- one teaching and studio work.
 
Pictured: Gillet Page, Turtle
 
As Gillet thinks about what she has left to accomplish in terms of her work, she acknowledges that “at 85, it is a race with time… I have an awful lot to get done in a short amount of time. “ She encourages young artists to “take as many classes as you can”.  After all, one never stops learning and growing as artists and as humans.