Mia Halton, Everyone Wore Khaki, 2008. Solar intaglio on paper, 16 x 16.
Mia Halton at Kathleen Cullen Fine Art
By Mary Hrbacek
In her meditative approach to creating art, Mia Halton focuses on the sense of touch. She creates microcosms of softly stroked lines and forms that she packs into condensed formats. Halton’s concentration and patience seem infinite. By developing an overall format with aggregates of miniature images, she creates the illusion of cosmic aerial space that hints at spiritual underpinnings. Here all things may be considered equally endowed with universal energies. The artist seems to have great sympathy for her fellow humans. Halton depicts them in a cartoon-like unassumingly benign manner that recalls both the art of Jean Dubuffet and the cartoon character Charlie Brown. This art retains its innocent quality, despite its obvious sophistication.
Pattern is another aspect that captivates the artist’s imagination. Her dotted and gridded graphite and conte crayon drawings resemble metaphoric intimate private love notes. The sensitivity and modesty of her works suggest an unpretentious personal view of her compatriots and her attitude toward life. Intimations of strain in the drawings of intensely close human forms surface as one focuses on their compositions and their titles. Halton seems to distrust a conformist approach to life’s complexities. She reveals herself through her art as an independent thinker confronted with the frailties of group dynamics. Her drawings entitled Group Think II, Muddling Through, and Everyone Wore Khaki signal her strong response to the “blind leading the blind” formula that often holds sway in the group decision process. She expresses her anxiety about crowded situations in images that elicit the undercurrents that drive her feeling of distress when faced with the sense of confinement inherent in large gatherings. Her works evoke a universal panic typically experienced by those caught in a mass of other people, with no obvious means of escape. The artist seems to imbue her images with chagrin at humanity’s predicament. The piece entitled Breath clearly displays individuals within a freer, less dense spatial arena, whose smiles show their pleasure at the chance to breathe freely. The picture suggests liberation from emotional pressure, or a state lacking harsh hidden constraints. Halton’s delicately rendered drawings of dotted patterns hint at her urge to explore the theme of “escape” to a betteror a different world. Both Neverland, (2012) and Walkabout (2012) provide aerial spatial views that may be construed as vast expanses of uninhabited pristine landscape.
The artist’s works investigate her response to the pressure to conform to society’s standards, to assimilate one’s personality into a pluralist identity. Several of Halton’s images deal with positive joyful feelings, in light poetic motifs such as a Happy Face entitled Mr. Right, or a piece with cloud forms embedded with pink colored circles calledHappy Little Thoughts. The drawing entitled Heart Patch (charcoal on rice paper, 2013) implies feelings of hope for the kind of connection that takes root and flourishes naturally, like the plants in a rice paddy do. Halton’s lyrical positive messages can be taken as irony, but she manages to make her statement on her own terms. Her works are at once playful and serious, as she explores issues that evoke an undercurrent of desire to preserve and freely express her individuality without fear of social consequences. The signature of this softly rendered work makes a personal point with universal relevance.