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Karen Paquette and Eileen Ross’ studio at the historic Red House Studios and Gallery in Black Mountain is a tribute to the artists’ fortitude and dedication. Paquette has fibromyalgia, and Ross has multiple sclerosis. Both refuse to let their medical conditions define how they see the world or how the world sees them.

The studio mates met in 2009 when Paquette started an experimental art group for the Swannanoa Valley Fine Arts League. She and Ross are intuitive painters who share a love for mixed-media, collage, mark making and water media art techniques.

Paquette uses her lifetime working in many different mediums - ceramics, weaving, textile arts, basket-making and paper-making - to explore dimensions of art in painting. She soaked copper flashing strips in vinegar to get the patina look to make elements for her series “Interpretive Layers” that includes the piece “Turquoise Memories.”

“I don’t want you to look for something realistic in my work,” Paquette said. “I want you to look beneath the surface and discover the layers of mystery, to find something that sparks your imagination. This is what nonobjective art is all about.”

Ross’ work is lyrical and metaphorical rather than representational. Her themes range from jazz musicians and circus performers to lively impressions of her mood. Indeed, her beautiful and sometimes haunting collages are an apt representation of the renewal and reconstruction of a multiple layered life.

“My art is an expression of me at the time I make it,”she said.

The public is invited to view their recent creations in studio 5 at the Red House, 310 W. State St. Home of the Swannanoa Valley Fine Art League, the gallery can be reached at 669-0351 and svfalarts.org.

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