The very personal paintings of two young women artists in their 20s — Megan Burak and Halie Torris — are showcased in the Thaler Gallery during February at the Ocean City Center for the Arts in a show entitled, “Identity: Depths of Self.”
Although both women were born in Pittsburgh and approach art in similar ways, they did not know each other until Rina Thaler, executive director of the Art League of Ocean City, introduced them for this show. They have since become friends.
“Both artists are very emotionally driven when creating, and their work will definitely compliment each other in the show,” Thaler said. “It is an important part of the Art League’s mission to encourage and promote young emerging artists like these two extremely talented women.”
Megan Burak of Berlin is a contemporary realist painter working mostly in oil. Born in Pittsburgh, she moved to the Eastern Shore at a young age, attended Stephen Decatur High School, and earned a degree in art from Salisbury University.
Burak fully immersed herself in art during her time at SU and began doing commission work almost immediately upon graduation. Her goal in creating a painting is to evoke an emotional response from the viewer.
“I tend to put my emotions into the concept of my work, and my new paintings created for the show, ‘Identity: Depths of Self,’ are no exception,” Burak said. “I strive to create multiple narratives within my paintings. I’ve always been pulled more toward the figure and portraiture as the subject for my work.”
Technical skill in her craft makes Burak’s paintings close to super realism.
“Part of it is just my innate desire to become so technically proficient in realism that the paintings almost look like photos. The other part is that it’s fun to come up with an idea, find or buy materials, take the photos for reference, and then turn it into a painting.”
Halie Torris was born and raised in Pittsburgh, attended Seton Hill University where she majored in graphic design, and recently moved to Ocean City. She visited the beach every summer with her family, and, when she began to draw and paint, the ocean became her preferred subject. Common themes within her work are loneliness, love, independence, power, isolation, and truth.
“I explore these themes through surrealist portraiture morphed with natural elements,” Torris said. “This is the simplest way that I define my body of work. However, it can range from women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, abuse of drugs and alcohol, materialism, and beauty standards. I am inspired by what I feel directly or indirectly through others.”
Torris believes this show was inspired by her relocation to a new home, creating an identity shift that she is currently experiencing and will experience throughout her life.
“I am learning that we are ever-changing beings that adapt and grow every second,” she shared. “We must be gentle and kind to ourselves. This series was inspired by the thoughts swirling constantly and moving to a new place. But most of all, I am inspired by the sea – by its ferocious, gentle, calm turbulence – for it reflects all of us, and allows us to experience the inner depths of ourselves.”
More information is available at www.artleagueofoceancity.org or by calling 410-524-9433.
The Art League of Ocean City is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the visual arts to the community through education, exhibits, scholarship, programs and community art projects. Financial support comes primarily through membership dues from individuals and corporate sponsors.