Jennifer Ditacchio, Pathways to Light

by William Evaul

Jennifer Ditacchio had her first solo exhibition last summer (1992) at the Gallery Matrix in Provincetown. Only one year out of Bennigton College, Vermont, this was quite an accomplishment for a young artists. But the explanation becomes obvious when one sees the work which exhibits a sophistication that belies her 23 years. Although she has studied painting intensively with a host of renowned artists such as Pat Adams, Sidney Tillim, Selina Trieff, Jay Milder, Melissa Meyer and others while attending Bennington, The Putney School. The Provincetown Art Association, The Vermont Studio School and the Castelli International School in Rome, she credits her mother who offered the support and encouragement of the painting experience together with the exposure to museums and "professional" artists work.

Ditacchio also received encouragement from some of her teachers who considered her work developed enough to enter the fray of the New York City art world. But after growing up on Cape Cod and spending a lot of time in rural Vermont, she knew she was not cut out for the city life. Instead, she decided to return to Provincetown where she now lives and considers the potential opportunities for artists to be sufficient and the light and landscape to be inspirational.

While the joy of painting that Ditacchio found in her childhood is still with her, she applies the intellectual self challenges of a mature artist to her work. "I started out painting realistically," she relates' "but soon recognized that I was not pushing myself to discover and grow. Now I've simplified my work and I am getting at the elements that are important-painter's problems like flatness versus illusion of depth, developing the masses, the shapes, and balancing the spaces between the positive elements."

Ditacchio still sketches realistically from life. "It keeps my eye and hand sharp," she says. Although she doesn't make paintings from these sketches, elements from them do show up later. Window #1, encaustic on canvas, 7 1/2" x 6", was painted in her senior year at Bennington with inspiration from a sketch made from her apartment window. IN turn, this small painting inspired a series of works utilizing building shapes, telephone poles, and skylines. These paintings describe how light bends around objects and pushes through space.
"I want the light to be enticing," states Ditacchio. "I want you to feel like you can work your way around the buildings and find a pathway to the light"

The encaustic medium ( hot wax and oil paint) lends a definite luminosity and is well chosen to convey the artist's message. These works can be seen at the Gallery Matrix in Provincetown where Ditacchio will have another solo exhibition August 7 to 20. Included will be some woodcuts which deal with the essential elements of composition and some monoprints which focus on light and texture.