N ot everyone would gaze at an MRI scan of a human brain or an X-ray of a dog’s internal organs and see beauty, but artist Lois Goglia of Cheshire does. One day many moons ago, when she was visiting her veterinarian husband Ed at work, a light box was on, illuminating the bones and organs of one of his patients. That image switched a light on inside Goglia, turning her artwork in a new direction.
For years she worked along traditional lines, first painting landscapes and still lifes and later moving to sculpture inspired by a trip to the Galapagos Islands, creating a nature-scape filled with turtles, prickly pear cacti and red-footed booby birds.
Then came that light box, leading to X-ray-based collages including 18 in a series titled Genesis, exploring the way individual cells connect and merge to become a fetus. Science and progression also inform the collection Goglia dubbed Insight, based on mammograms and ultrasounds. Identity wonders how humans are alike and different from each other, considering race, gender, genetics and even nationality. In X-rays in Living Color, Goglia introduced vibrant colors into X-ray collages that explode in rainbow hues.
In each, using line, value, color, texture and shape, and modulating darkness, lightness and opacity, Goglia has worked with X-rays to evince what she believes are their “metaphorical connections” and “their inherent nuanced meanings.” For the last quarter-century, Goglia says, “My fascination with radiographic images has never ceased.”
Over the last six months, her work has taken a turn to wearable art, in the form of psychedelic printed scarves. She’ll create a design on a light box, photograph it, then make adjustments on her computer before sending it to the printer for test samples. Achieving the exact colors and styles she wants is an involved process, typically requiring several rounds of reviewing and readjusting. She consults with digital imaging expert Charul Kothari to create the deep and intense colors she desires.
Just as a trip to the Galapagos Islands gave birth to her past sculpture work, annual monthlong stays in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, have strongly influenced these latest creations. The scarves often feature skulls on vibrantly colored silk charmeuse. “Skulls and skeletons are all over Mexico,” but, “while Americans have a fear of skulls and death,” she says, Mexican culture embraces them as symbols of passed loved ones and objects of reverence.
One of the scarves, “Bodi Blue,” features a single skull in yellow, green and blue; on another, “Day of the Dead,” a trio of skulls printed on black are eerily beautiful. A whimsical seeding of skulls, in pink, blue and yellow on a black rectangle, tinged with a pink frame, is appropriately named “Scattered Skulls.” “Marigold Criss Cross” is a bombastic medley of gold, orange, aquamarine, and blue. “Capricho” resembles a cornucopia and “Map” is a swirl of greens and purples like fireworks popping across a summer sky.
For spring, Goglia is working on a second round. Goglia’s latest inspiration comes from papeles picados, colorful cut paper chains that hang from rooftop to rooftop, over the town streets where cars are forbidden. “Any reason for a festival, complete with unbelievable costumes and dancing, leads to parades every week all year long.” For its colorful and creative culture, she calls Mexico a “paradise for an artist.”
Yet there’s also another place in her scarves: Kenya, Africa. A member of the New Haven Chorale for many years, Lois formed a makeshift chorus with her mates while traveling there, greeting the local Maasai people at each stop with a song in Swahili. For that, some of the Maasai bestowed upon her the name “Nesola,” meaning “most powerful one.”
Goglia has built that Maasai meaning into her scarves. Women around the world are wrapped up to conceal or control their femininity; but she wants to embolden them through their wrappings. Nesola isn’t just a name she was given, but it’s the name she’s given to her scarf line, offering designs to empower women courtesy of a worldly woman living half a world away.
www.loisgoglia.net | www.nesola-scarves.com
Written by Bonnie Goldberg. Photographed by Charul Kothari.