by rachelle rogers
begins, I was once told, 'Vera, you lack the art of subtlety,
and I was very depressed for a long time. Very depressed. We are
in the living room of her home, her sanctuary, as she calls it, sitting
in front of the first fire of the season. Because I wanted to
be the most subtle thing ever. Vera pauses to rethread a needle.
She is sewing blue-black feathers onto a mans silk tie to raise
money for The McCartney Project: Enduring Ties, one of the many
charities with which she is involved. And only after long soul
searching, she continues, did I realize and come to accept
that theres nothing subtle about me.
Vera Struck may not be subtle, she has the ingenuity and perspicacity
of someone who is. Not the physical Amazon Woman she perceives
herself to be, Vera takes up big space energetically, yet respects anothers
presence. She gives the reassurance of solidity, authenticity; that,
like it or not, what you see is what you get. And this kind of largeness
is reflected in her art. Whether its an iconographic swirl of
color, a bal masqué nude, or a six foot Buddha, her emotional
objective unselfconsciously leaps out.
the time she was very young, Vera drew in the margins of all her notebooks.
Art, she felt, was her calling. But when, on a museum field trip, she
wandered away from her class and got caught fondling a Gaston Lachaise
sculpture to experience the huge shoulders and arms, the tiny waist,
the big hips and breasts, her mother burned all her drawings.
Vera possessed a natural gift for numbers, excelling in science and
mathematics, she eventually pursued a very successful career as a CPA.
Not until years later, when her marriage dissolved into divorce, did
she go back to her art.
should have seen me. Shes talking about Philip Gustins
class at Boston University. Im in a Dior suit, with no shoes
on, and Im drawing crazy with my fingers smooshed with pastels,
totally unaware of anyone around me.
artistic hopefuls are encouraged not to quit their day jobs. Vera was
told the opposite, although she was reluctant to rush into anything.
So, receiving a full scholarship to the Museum School in Boston, she
attended night classes, earned an MFA, and later taught at The University
of Pittsburgh and The Art Institutes of Phoenix and Pittsburgh. Experimenting
with a series of genres including colorfield abstracts, wildlife, erotica,
Greco-Roman images, Native American and Buddhist iconography, Vera has,
for the past 35 years, gained international recognition for an amazingly
prolific body of work.
it was in the 1980s that she began to develop her Quadrum Matrix
series, a personal synthesis of the science, art, and spirituality inherent
in all her previous genres, plus the addition of time. Quadrum
means square, and matrix means mother grid, she explains, thus
the grid of all science and nature.
Quadrum Matrix is based on the golden mean, one of the mysterious natural
numbers that seem to arise out of the basic structure of the cosmos.
It is clearly and regularly perceived in things that grow and unfold
in steps. In mathematics it is seen in the Fibonacci series,
a list in which each new number is the sum of the previous two, and
the ratio of any two sequential numbers in the series is within hundredths
of a percent of 1.6 or phi.
geometry, it is seen in a rectangle whose sides are related by phi,
called a golden rectangle. If a new rectangle is formed by swinging
the long side around one of its ends to create a new long side, that
new rectangle is also golden. Likewise, if you start with a 1
x 1 square and swing its sides around to make rectangles, you
wind up with golden rectangles without even trying.
is riddled with math, Vera explains. If you look at the
pyramids you can see them as receiving towers for transmissions, or
as burial towers, depending on the math you apply to them. You can look
at the Tree of Life, a symbol that appears in 16 different spiritual
belief systems. Its very interesting. Ancient architecture is
filled with golden rectangles.
is the Quadrum Matrix, a series of golden squares and rectangles on
which Vera has created images and textures. The golden mean, as a mysterious,
underlying construct that permeates all things, connects all things,
and Vera sees this as the basis for developing a relationship between
her and the collector or buyer or viewer of her work. The individually
designed sections can be combined and interchanged to create a custom
work of art. Constructed and deconstructed, she calls it, likening the
process to wave theory (which would need a whole other article to explain),
and introducing the idea of time. An initial configuration can be altered.
A damaged piece can be replaced, older sections can be taken out, new
ones added. The work evolves.
sees the Quadrum Matrix as the beginning of her most mature work, and
Asheville as the perfect place to support that. Vera had visited many
times, and like so many others, felt this ancient stretch of North Carolina
Blue Ridge would inevitably become her home. When the time was right
she moved herself and her studio here from Atlanta in one month.
was looking for a place that would sustain and support me as I found
the courage to live with authenticity. Being authentic is very
high on Veras list of aspirations. And, for her, Asheville nurtures
that. My only legacy is to be awake and present. I came to Asheville
because I felt more awake here. I had less resistance to being who I
Picasso, Vera sees art in everything. And experiments with all of it.
She might awake one day and decide to work with anything but black or
brown. Or not to paint with any traditional tools. So I grab the
first six things I see and learn how to paint with rags, towels, bars
of soap, combs, anything. Toward the end of his career, when Picasso
was asked how he can be so prolific and have so many styles, he replied,
Oh, but young man, all I do is put my hands in my pockets and
pull out the fingers of all the artists before me.
Vera explains, he was saying that to be a gifted artist, you are
born with and have in your cellular structure all those masters you
have appreciated and understood from the past. She points to a
drawing of her sister done in a style reminiscent of the Mona Lisa hanging
on the wall across the room. You look at that and that is a Da
Vinci/Michaelangelo drawing. That is taking the style of a certain century
of art and being able to show that I understand how they did eyelids,
noses, mouths. I understand how they cross hatch. I understand exactly
what they did, exactly the way they drew back then. She pauses.
So the thing is, where do I go from here? What do I do with the
Quadrum Matrix. Vera grows silent, pokes at the fire logs, drawing
her energy inward. Maybe Ill just finish my 3-D here and
go on to work with light
she says, and for a moment, I imagine
her becoming subtle as air.
Visit Vera Struck online at struckstudios.com
fiction writer, and freelance editor, Rachelle Rogers
is author of Creative Crafts Desk Handbook (Prentice-Hall, Inc.), has
received competitive recognition for short story, memoir and poetry,
and was awarded a 2002 Wildacres Artists Residency. She has also been
a reader with UNCA/Great Smokies Writing Programs Writers at Home
series. Her work has appeared in several publications and literary journals
including Lucid Moon, WNC Woman, Pointed Circle, Passager, Sows
Ear Poetry Review, Calyx: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women.
She lives in Asheville, NC and is currently at work on a second novel.
offers complete professional, creative and business editing services
and manuscript critiques. [ 828.252.4123; firstname.lastname@example.org;