“From Starfield To MARS”: Barbara Bosworth and S. Billie Mandle Discuss Starfield Exhibit at Artist Talk

White stars streak across a night sky in Barbara Bosworth’s displayed work, while dark values in those of S. Billie Mandle highlight internal struggle. These images are featured in the exhibit “From Starfield to MARS: Paul Manship and His Artistic Legacy,” currently on display in the Addison Gallery of American Art.

“The talk the two artists gave were really inspiring and mind-blowing because I’ve never really looked into art in a photographic view, and they seemed to have a whole different vision of the world than I do. I learned a lot about how something that seems quite simple and ordinary like photography can become a complex mix of modern technology and creative art,” said audience member Jimin Lee ’20.

Bosworth and Mandle held an Artist Talk at the Addison last Sunday to discuss their work currently on display in the Manship exhibit. The artists also shared their experiences at the Manship Artists Residency + Studios (MARS), where they and the exhibit’s two other featured photographers, Justin Kimball and Abelardo Morell, spent time over the past year.

“[Being part of the Starfield project was] an incredible honor and also, really, a lot of fun. The landscape was really beautiful, and it was wonderful to see others exploring the house, and working with everyone at the Addison… was a wonderful experience,” said Mandle.

A central theme in Mandle’s photographs is the relationship between place and self, and the way the two are constructed. A few of her projects include traces of people — leftover writing and drawing on walls — that represent boredom and anxiety. Through her choices of subject, such as the corner of a wall or the gloomy, creased bottom of a curtain, Mandle gives attention to quiet and otherwise unattractive places, and has developed her personal style in a softer contrast to Manship’s work.

“I think it’s always challenging to figure out what to say in relation to somebody else’s body of work, and in relationship to another artist. How do I respond to an artist who’s created so much and has had so much to say? Finding my voice in the midst of that was a challenge, but a good one,” said Mandle.

Bosworth, whose work combines people with the natural world, cites a fascination with the heavens as well as Paul Manship’s interest in astronomy as inspirations.

“[Being a part of the project was] wonderful and educational. I learned a lot about Manship, and it was just really wonderful to have the time to make new work, and to be left alone with it and do whatever we wanted to do without being told what to do. It was about discovery,” said Bosworth.

In her work in the Starfield exhibit, there are many pictures of individual streaks of stars. In past projects, Bosworth has experimented with capturing stars in different ways, discovering how to photograph them both as streaks and as dots.

“You don’t know what you’re going to do. It’s all a blank slate. You have no idea. Ideas come to you. You might go down a wrong path and learn that’s a wrong path, so you come back and take another one. It’s a learning experience: you go along with it, and you make new work that you’ve never seen before,” said Bosworth.

Mandle and Bosworth encourage students to explore the artwork in the exhibit. As a developing artist, Mandle hopes the audience will leave the talk with an appreciation for the exhibit.

“Most people don’t know about my pictures, so I’m happy to introduce the pictures to people. I hope they spend more time with the show and have a greater interest in the work that everyone has done, and a greater interest in Paul Manship’s work,” said Mandle.

“From Starfield To MARS: Paul Manship and His Artistic Legacy” will be on display until January 20, 2019.

Editor’s Note: Jimin Lee ’20 is an Associate Graphic Design Editor for The Phillipian.