At its core art is a physical and emotive act, and an exploration of the human condition. Color and mark-making are the essential language of human artistic expression at its most rudimentary level. The artists exhibiting at Kingston Gallery in May draw their inspiration from nature, light, the ambiguity of life, the nature of motherhood, and close relationships with friends. Hilary Tolan’s exhibit ‘In this Place’ is grounded in her reverence for nature. Her deep-looking, and the stillness of her subject invites the exploration of multiple interpretive images, encouraging the viewer to look again and see something new. Her drawings and their subjects will be displayed in diptych to invite close looking.

Hilary Tolan has a reverence and love for nature and place, which nourishes her work. She has a keen interest in playing with images, seeing them in multiple iterations, noticing what happens when she experiments with this or that variation. For Tolan the goal of this ‘double-take’-- looking again to explore the images further, teasing out similarities and differences -- is to invoke a deep looking, quietness, and sense of wonder in her photographs and drawings. She hopes these explorations will allow the viewer to step into a world and inhabit the places she has been.

Photography and drawing as mediums represent two different ways to create an image. Using a camera an artist can aim, crop, settle on a given spot, adjust light and then: the camera takes over. The view is translated by the camera’s visual language. Depending on the image, light takes over some areas and at times shadowy places will appear nearly black. Rather than adjust for these extreme lighting conditions, Tolan allows the camera to become, in a sense, overwhelmed by the conditions, allowing natural light to dictate the image.

In contrast, Tolan’s drawings are in relation and response to her photographs. Using the photograph as a jumping off place to begin a drawing, she gleans information and zeroes in on different moments. In the current series ‘In this Place’ Tolan focuses on textures of bark or a sweep of movement in lines of branches, employing white pencil and white gouache on black paper to explore the play of light on dark. Though rarely seen anymore, the images remind the viewer of negatives from black and white photography. However, in Tolan’s drawings, the light areas are not the “negative” or reverse, they are meant to denote the “positive” part of the image. The stripped-down black and white image invites the viewer to explore and arrive at a distillation of the branch, tree, or cluster of leaves.

Hilary Tolan is a Boston area artist. She was born in Port Jefferson, New York. She completed her Master’s in Art Education in the Artist/Teacher program at Massachusetts College of Art in and she received her BFA from Purchase College, New York. Tolan’s work has been reviewed by the Boston Globe, the Boston Phoenix, Art New England and Artscope magazine. She has been a resident at the Byrdcliffe Guild Artist colony at the Woodstock Guild in New York and was an artist in residence at the Hambidge Center, Georgia in 2008. Hilary creates her work using a range of materials including drawing, photography, sculpture, and installation. Since 2021, she has been the curator for Gallery 93, a community gallery at the Brookline Senior Center. She has gallery affiliations with Kingston Gallery in Boston and Drive-by/bk projects gallery in Watertown, Massachusetts.