Saturday, December 6, 2008

"The Journal" Newspaper's Article on Nostalgic Studio

A nostalgic look at womanhood through art

By Tricia Lynn Strader — Weekeneder Staff Writer
POSTED: October 23, 2008

BERKELEY SPRINGS - Artist Terah Ware of Nostalgic Studios lives for the future through the past.

Having a curiosity for art nouveau and the Edwardian Period as a school student, she found her calling as a mixed media artist showing not only the nostalgia but the strength of the people of the period, especially women. It was the inspiration for her collection called Forever Strong Womanhood. Her work is exhibited at the Ice House during this weekend's Berkeley Springs Studio Tour.

Ware likes to evoke an essence of familiarity, but also of mystery in her paintings of women from the historical time. She finds ideas in antique malls and simple things like art nouveau jewelry.

"I have always been into nostalgia," she says. When a high school art teacher into antiques spurred her interest in art nouveau, she began researching the time period when women were in a kind of transition in society and in their own being.

And, she says about that time "Titanic" came out, a movie she really likes. She felt a strong connection to those women.

"Women had it pretty tough then," Ware says. "Well, they had it tough in many periods; but in this time they had to show they were part of the society, doing what they had to do and still they were rebellious in many ways."

"Women wanted the vote," she says. "They wanted to wear pants. They had to fight for that. I found a book titled 'Women Who Wear Pants.' These women were doing men's jobs by day and wearing pants, but were back to being a woman at night. That was fascinating to me because it was a huge faux pas."

"I love old vintage art works," Ware says. "Art nouveau is a huge inspiration, and I love going to antique stores to get ideas. The craftsmanship was so much better. We were going into a period of mass production at the turn of the century, but we still wanted everything to look beautiful. Even a pair of scissors was beautiful, not plastic as today."

She's come on quite a journey from being a child who loved art class in school. Now she is an art teacher for Morgan County Schools, and creates original prints at Nostalgic Studios. She will also have giclee (pronounced jee-clay) prints of her original works for sale during the Studio Tour.

Her earliest memory of wanting to be an artist was at 4 or 5 years old. "My mom gave me different kinds of noodles, a piece of paper and glue. She said to go to town, to see what I could do with it. I did the same exact project with kindergartners at Paw Paw School. Those kids are incredible with their talent."

Her next major memory was in third grade, when she saw her rabbit drawing on the walls of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. "I'm from Hagerstown," she says. "When I was little, there were shows for the school system and they displayed at the museum. I remember my parents taking me to see it, and I had to stretch my neck up to see it. I thought it was a beautiful place to have it there and knew I wanted to have other work there some day. I've had work exhibited there seven times now."

She went on to work for the Arts Centre in Martinsburg and taught classes at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. Children are an inspiration for Ware, and she has worked with kids at the Stonebridge group home as well as Boys and Girls Club as an art director.

During the Studio Tour, she will be demonstrating her technique of layering watercolor, pen and ink, or acrylic into her mixed media paintings. "There are different types of mixed media," Ware says. "Some use found objects. I call it fine art mixed media. I start with acrylic to do the background. I work in layers and choose pastel for the portrait, or main person. I render all my own work, drawing it out. I can go from pastel to pen and ink, or watercolor. Any media is possible. There are no boundaries."

Her work is made to look old, as if it was in the attic a long time. Sometimes she uses handmade papers or finds antique turn of the century newspapers.

Using pastels for the portrait, she says they are very translucent, allowing images from behind to come through. "Layering it brings the entire message out," she says.

Message is important to her. She believes that there is a time and place for everything, and that we are all connected to the past of our collective humanity, on several levels. Perhaps she can relate to the women of the Edwardian period, but she is curious about other periods also. She reenacts the Medieval time.

"It's fun to play dress up and get to be someone else," she says of going to an event called Pennsic in northeastern Pennsylvania. "The first time I went, I wanted to go so badly that I did not have the clothes. They wear Medieval clothes all weekend. People began saying to me, 'My lady, you are naked.' They fixed me up with the clothes right away. One of the items is the corset. And of course, the corset is a symbol in my art work. Women were restricted, had to conform, and the corset was confining."

She wants people to take something away from her work. "I want to celebrate the strengths of the women and how they overcame obstacles in history. They went through that so we could have better opportunities."

Currently, she is working on a new series on individuals who've had past lives called Old Souls.

- Staff writer Tricia Lynn Strader can be reached at

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