Strong Women Project
I started this series of paintings of strong women as a way to process and respond to our current political situation. It is astonishing to me that our country has not even passed the Equal Rights Amendment, and the more I talk about it, the more I find that most people don’t know that. The “Me Too Movement” of the past few years and most recently the bravery with which Dr. Christine Blazey Ford spoke about her experience with Brett Kavanaugh has been really inspiring. I thought, this must be enough outrage that something will change, yet, our country put him on our highest court and set us up to have rights we have fought for taken away. That was my tipping point. I couldn’t just watch anymore. The patriarchal society just isn’t working for the majority of this country. We are being led and manipulated by a minority. It’s time for a change and I truly believe that it will be women who will make it. So, creating this work and honoring these strong women is not only helping me process my anger and frustration, but maybe it will inspire and motivate people to support each others strength and speak up for our rights.
“Every day, rain or shine, Townsend hikes with her dog in the woods outside Charlottesville. She goes to the same area day after day, observing her surroundings and experiencing nature--the sights, smells, sounds, weather, etc. These repetitive excursions, which suggest a kind of meditation, ensure a deep connection to her subject matter and become the inspiration for the work she produces in the studio. "I immerse myself in the landscape. I want to capture that experience of nature and offer it to the viewer," says Townsend. She takes photos on the trail, but these function purely as compositional tools; she relies on her memory to provide the rest of the information.
Already a keen observer, thanks to her science and art backgrounds, Townsend has augmented this skill through the repetitive regimen she follows. She's become particularly attuned to the natural world and portrays it with depth and sensitivity. Her work is not just a visual representation of nature, but an authentic account of the experience of interacting with it. This kind of attention to observation and the desire to convey a truth to the viewer is very much akin to the process and aims of medical illustration. But the way her paintings look couldn't be more different from the doctrinaire approach of those scientific renderings. With her highly keyed colors, slashing line and gestural brushstrokes, Townsend's works convey a joy, not just in nature, but in the act of painting itself--you can tell she revels in it.”
Excerpt from an essay by Sarah Sargent