Painter Neha Panicker is one of five women artists in A Warm Embrace, the exhibition opening Saturday, March 2, at Northwind Art’s Jeanette Best Gallery in downtown Port Townsend. (photo courtesy of Neha Panicker)

Painter Neha Panicker is one of five women artists in A Warm Embrace, the exhibition opening Saturday, March 2, at Northwind Art’s Jeanette Best Gallery in downtown Port Townsend. (photo courtesy of Neha Panicker)

Art for healing: ‘A Warm Embrace’ brings five women artists together

PORT TOWNSEND — Art can give solace — to the artists and the viewers. This is what five women explore in “A Warm Embrace,” the exhibition opening this weekend at Northwind Art’s Jeanette Best Gallery.

The artists come from across the country and around the globe to show their work, which goes from color-drenched abstract paintings to wood mosaics.

“A Warm Embrace” will be unveiled at the gallery, 701 Water St., on Saturday, in time for Port Townsend’s First Saturday Art Walk, and then stay on display through April 28.

Regular hours are from noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays. During this Saturday’s Art Walk from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., refreshments and conversation will flow; admission is free to that event and throughout the show.

More information can be found at https:// northwindart.org.

The five “Embrace” artists live in the Seattle metro area, while they come from cultures outside the Pacific Northwest. All have offered classes at Northwind Art School at Fort Worden State Park: Coming up are Xin Xin’s two online courses in abstract art on April 20, and Neha Panicker’s in-person workshop “Intentional Mark Making: A Dialogue with the Self” on April 28. Details are on the “Take a Class” page at https://northwindart.org.

Here are the artists:

Abstract painter Soo Hong seeks to capture moments and phenomena that are invisible to the naked eye.

“Hong’s paintings, which she has exhibited in her native South Korea, Europe, Shanghai, China and the United States, just vibrate with color,” said Northwind Art spokesperson Diane Urbani.

There was a time, Hong said, when she felt guilty about making art for her own pleasure.

“I came to the realization,” she said, “that holding onto this guilt did not improve the quality of my work. I have now fully embraced the necessity of making art, believing in total freedom and creativity … The more I paint or create art, the stronger it becomes, and I feel alive.”

Seattle mixed-media artist Jody Joldersma has a studio in Pioneer Square. Educated at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., she’s an alumna of the Feminist Intensive program at Soapbox Inc., and a co-founder of Feminist Camp Seattle.

In her narrative art, she’s inspired by her youth caught between a collapsing steel town and the rural escapism of her grandparents’ farm in the coal mountains of Pennsylvania. Joldersma layers her drawings, paint and original photography on wood, leaving the construction process visible in the final image.

Naoko Morisawa was born in Tokyo, Japan, and studied at Japan’s Tama Art University. She has worked as a designer for Godiva Chocolate and Twining Tea and had her works selected for many public art projects in Seattle and surrounding communities. Her art is handmade of hundreds of very small slices of wood and paper.

“The life of a tree and the energy in each grain of wood are why I use wood,” Morisawa said. She added that she hopes her art leaves a lasting impression on people’s hearts, just like a piece of good music.

Neha Panicker is an architect turned artist who is originally from India. Making art, she said, is how she embraces herself — her musings and her dreams. Into “A Warm Embrace,” she brings her “Portal Fantasy” series, in which she imagines the intrigue of entering a portal and experiencing teleportation or transformation. Panicker’s “Aura” series, paintings of individuals’ unique auras, will also appear in the show.

Xin Xin was born in Beijing, China, and grew up in Seattle. She worked in the corporate world for years and then set out on an extended solo sojourn around the world. Upon returning to the Puget Sound region, Xin went to work for a local art school. She has since developed her art practice, exhibited her abstract creations across the region and found abundant joy in teaching art to children, seniors and many students in between.

For Xin, art making is a powerful salve for healing traumatic emotions.

“When I paint, I get into this meditative zone. It’s something I couldn’t achieve through sitting meditation,” she said. “There are no thoughts or chatter in my mind, and I simply focus on the tip of the brush. Although physically tiring, the painting sessions give me peace.”

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