This was the final paragraph in my last essay, Art and Mycelia:

Artists, like mycelium, have been operating in a world where they are mostly hidden, undervalued and disempowered.  Like the concept of the flipped classroom—the movement to change institutionalized pedagogy by switching what happens inside the classroom and out—maybe it is time to flip the way art gets seen, experienced, acquired and valued.

This week has made it clear that much more needs to be flipped than just classrooms. In the face of these large arc issues right now, smaller and more personal concerns can feel less significant. But aligning with Pema Chodron’s wise counsel to “start where you are,” that is what June 5 is—the start of something new.

For years I have written with frustration about the chasm that exists between art making and art audiences. Operating in an arena that is skewed by market forces that have little to do with quality and integrity, artists making exceptional work often go unseen and unappreciated. This disconnect disempowers everyone, artists as well as their audiences.

Today is the launch of PELL LUCY, an artist collective that brings artists and audiences closer together. Pell Lucy is a purpose-built network that is artist-driven. Working within larger artist networks, Pell Lucy leverages the power of the whole while enabling each artist to make choices about how they would like to share their work. Events, exhibits, collaborations and other art connections become available in this structure, allowing network effects to benefit everyone.

The charter for Pell Lucy is simple:

Pell Lucy is a collective of artists who believe form “possesses an intelligence of its own–an intelligence far deeper and more complex than conscious, discursive thought.” (Taney Roniger) Their way of working relies on the primacy of process, materials, intimacy with the physical world and the power of the image itself.

As part of the Pell Lucy launch, all 20 artists are featured in an online exhibit, The Intelligence of Form, on Artsy:

The Intelligence of Form

June 5 – September 3, 2020

In the meantime, you can follow what we are doing on these social media platforms:

Facebook: PELL LUCY

Instagram: @pelllucyartists, #pelllucy

Artsy: The Intelligence of Form

Note: Each individual artist has his/her own page on Artsy and can be searched by their name.

The artists and their websites are listed below, followed by the curatorial statement for the exhibit.

One last comment about the name since several people have asked what it means. Pell Lucy is a variation of the word pellucid, a term that implies clarity, viewing, light, transparency, seeing through to something else. The word pell comes from skin, or a manuscript on parchment. In other words, an artifact. And Lucy is a variation of the name Lucien, which means light. The name seems just right for what this collective can be.


Deborah Barlow

Kay Canavino

Ramah Commanday

Tina Feingold

Lea Feinstein

Karen Fitzgerald

Lynette Haggard

Joseph Hayes

Joanne Lefrak

Denise Manseau

Elizabeth Mead

Paula Overbay

Tim Rice

Taney Roniger

Julie Shapiro

Sarah Slavick

Rhonda Smith

Anne Walker

Debra Weisberg

Ginny Zanger

Curatorial statement for The Intelligence of Form:

PELL LUCY is a collective of artists who work from a shared belief that form possesses its own intelligence—one that, in the words of Pell Lucy artist Taney Roniger, is “far deeper and more complex than conscious, discursive thought.” This exhibit is an introduction to the work of these artists, a group of individuals who have spent most of their lives working alone in their studios, putting the integrity of their work first and foremost.

Their art takes many forms: Painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, assemblage, printmaking, collage. Their tendency is to respect the mystery of process, allow their materials to educate them, nurture an intense curiosity about the physical world, have little interest in the cynical but possess a high tolerance for chaos and uncertainty.

The “intelligence of form” they are seeking doesn’t language easily. It is an old dodge to say this mode of knowing is beyond language, but every artist—and every art lover–knows that inexplicable moment when a work comes into coalescence. It is a knowing that frequently registers in the body—a sense of thrall, or a pulsing with resonance. And what a gift when that happens! In the words of Seamus Heaney, “What matters is the shape-making impulse, the emergence and convergence of an excitement into a wholeness.”

These days it is reasonable to ask where art fits in this increasingly dim world. During these dark days we are inundated with imagery of political strife, world suffering and grief. Our reality is in the process of being violently reshaped. In the domain of art, a strong trend has increasingly focused on art that delivers a sociopolitical identity and ideology, an approach where form is clearly subordinate to content. Meanwhile a relentless flood of ads and images invade our viewing space every day. Jean-Luc Godard’s sharp observation, “an uninterrupted chain of images whose slaves we are,” is a sobering reminder of how deep into this morass we are.  

Rather than capitulate to the hopelessness of our plight, a counter argument suggests that this overexposure to images of every stripe might be the training we need to develop new and differentiated ways of seeing. It may be that art exists as a rhizome—an ambient community that embraces the whole, apprehends multiplicities, is neither linear nor predictable, has no inside or outside, no up or down. In this vision of things there is no center because the center is, well, everywhere. The intelligence of form resides abundantly in this “reticulate mesh” (Merlin Sheldrake’s phrase to describe the massive expanse of mycelium that covers the earth, underground and unseen.) This version of the world—one that encompasses human life as well as every other component of matter in the universe—is one where art exists as a worthy participant, contributor and meshmate.

2 Replies to “PELL LUCY”

  1. This sounds very exciting. Congratulations for the very hard work to get a strong group of artists together. I am hopeful you will all flourish from this group action and I look forward to hearing future news.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Barbara, Thank you for your support. New territory for most of us, but territory we need to understand. All the best to fabulous you.

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