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Modern Mother’s Day Homage Combines Contemporary Portraiture And Ancient Symbolism

Nicole Barylski

"St. Ingrid" and "St. Lucille."

Capturing a family portrait or solo shots of loved ones can be a tedious task. For anyone that's watched the Modern Family episode where they try to attempt the feat has seen the process unfold in a hilarious manner that ends in a result that is perfectly fitting for the Pritchett, Tucker, and Dunphy families.

"First Born."

Normally on Mother's Day it's the responsibly of the children and grandchildren to give their family's matriarch a memorable memento, but for one local artist, she chose to reverse the roles. Lucille Berrill Paulsen documented the quirks, imperfections, and adoration of her clan in Lucille Berrill Paulsen's Family Album in Icons, now on display at Levitas Center for the Arts at the Southampton Cultural Center.

"I had this idea, to paint my son's portrait in this 'iconic' style, complete with icons, gold leaf, oil on panel... just like the old paintings from pre-Renaissance," explained Berrill Paulsen. "Then, I found the frames in that style. That was the genesis of the whole idea."

The nine portraits' pre-Renaissance inspiration is coupled with a contemporary twist. Berrill Paulsen, who resides in Water Mill, memorialized those closest to her using a mix of striking contemporary portraiture and ancient iconic symbolism, brimming with ample gold leaf accents. Each picture shines a light into the subject's personality as she used symbols to exemplify the attributes of her family members.

St. David, her husband's portrait, includes a computer, golf green, painter's palette and more of his favorite things drifting in the background. Her son-in-law, who works as a software designer, has the geometry of a motherboard hovering near his halo. While the artist takes her works very seriously, her witty sense of humor is hard to miss with this series of paintings. In Mugged By Time, Berrill Paulsen's self-portrait, the artist's halo is crooked, as if to show that even the matriarch of the family has her moments. The collection even includes the newest member of their family, her 5-day-old granddaughter.

Berrill Paulsen studied portraiture under Richard Owen, Daniel Greene and Albert Handell. The local artist has taught art in Southampton, and her pieces are showcased in private collections across the United States and Europe. She has served as the president of the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Club, and sits on the boards of several other notable art organizations.

Lucille Berrill Paulsen's Family Album in Icons will be on view through Monday, May 23rd.

The Levitas Center for the Arts at the Southampton Cultural Center is located at 25 Pond Lane in Southampton. For more information, call 631-287-4377 or visit www.scc-arts.org.


Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski




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