By JONATHAN BISSONNETTE
PAWTUCKET – When travelers from around the globe land at T.F. Green Airport and collect their baggage from their domestic or international flights, as they wait for their luggage they’ll be transfixed by the abstract art on display from a woman with local ties.
Eveline Luppi now resides in Warwick but she was raised in Pawtucket’s Pine Crest neighborhood and she has a studio located inside The Mills at 545 Pawtucket Ave.
Her foray into arts came when she took a drawing class at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1970s. She knew she had the talent to become an artist, but she took a job teaching at a Catholic school in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. After teaching for 20 years, she decided to venture back into the arts, attending art school in New York City, where she worked with some of the major abstract artists of the era.
“I got excellent training,” she recalled. “I started showing my work in the ‘90s and continue to show it.”
After living in New York for 35 years, Luppi only recently moved back to Rhode Island about a year and a half ago. After splitting time between the Big Apple and Little Rhody, particularly with a gallery in North Kingstown from 2008 through 2011, Luppi planted roots back in her original hometown of Pawtucket with her “fantastic studio” on Pawtucket Avenue.
“I feel really welcomed back to Rhode Island,” she said.
Perhaps most welcoming of all, though, was when she found out that her work would be on display at T.F. Green Airport, where travelers from all over are welcomed to Rhode Island.
She submitted her work and was notified last winter that she would be one of the select few artists whose work would be showcased inside the airport. The show has been up since May and will continue to be displayed through September and is sponsored by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.
“Oh, I was absolutely thrilled,” she recalled of hearing the news that her artwork would be on display at T.F. Green. “It was an honor to have my work at the airport. When we hung the show, we were really embraced by a number of people walking by, they thought it was a great show. It’s been really nice, people have been traveling, stopping by the gallery to see it.”
“It’s what keeps you going,” she later said. “You work alone a lot in the studio, you’re continuing to do it so the public can receive it and enjoy it. A lot of my work is content-driven, tied to experiences in the world. When somebody acknowledges that, that’s what it’s all about. It’s people experiencing your work and feeling the passion that comes through it and feeling some sort of joy. It was delightful to get that from the airport exhibit.”
The exhibit at the airport is called “Formal Considerations” and features work from Luppi and fellow Rhode Island artists Luke Randall and Stacey Messier. According to the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, the viewer is “invited to examine the various ways in which a visual work can underscore an artist’s relationship to aspects of art history.”
Luppi’s work centers around geometric abstraction, which is influenced by Dutch Neoplasticism and Russian Constructivism. However, she puts her own twist on it, using many colors. That’s apparent with the display at the airport, which features fluorescent colors that glow in the dark under a black light.
“It’s very bright and welcoming to travelers getting off the plane looking to recharge,” she said.
“Early on, I was experimental. I learned how to paint abstraction in all ways … I could do all the different kinds of abstraction,” Luppi said. “At a certain point, I made a choice to develop my body of work and to define clearer who I was as a painter. I like the process of geometric abstraction, it’s very methodical, it’s very zen-like, it’s thoughtful.”
“It’s calculated, a lot of it is measurement and placement and design and the color plays a big role in how the forms work on the canvas,” she continued. “I like that it’s a slower process than painting expressionism when you’re doing more action painting and moving fast. I like the zen feeling of it. I really enjoy that.”
Jonathan Bissonnette on Twitter @J_Bissonnette