1989 - Brief Comments about my work in the RainForest of Costa Rica and my Experiences as an Artist

 

The bulk of my artwork as a visual artist reflects my great interest in nature, which manifested itself early in my adolescent years and has grown side by side with my commitment to the study of art and art history.

I have also been impelled to travel and experience the world around me in my search for the understanding and recording of life and my inner visions. I worked directly from motifs of the rainforest (not from photographs).

These paintings were started with an acrylic layout of the composition in arbitrary colors that serve as underpainting for further layers in oils, where a more elaborated design in final colors appears. In this collection only the blue triptic was carried out purely in acrylic paints. In most of these landscapes I have attempted to reveal the amplitude of the forest yet I believe that details tell about grandeur, so I was driven to record them abundantly. I think that my color combinations go beyond realism to convey mood through the manipulation of visual possibilities.

During my stay in Costa Rica I travelled extensively around that country, by bus and by canal boat. I settled to work for long periods and divided my working time among three places, all of them represented in this collection of slides. I worked at three biological jungle research areas: first, the "Monte Verde Cloud Forest Nature Reserve" situated on the mid-Pacific mountainous area of Costa Rica; secondly at "La selva" (Spanish for "jungle"), a scientific research forest and study center in the northwest rain forest, close to the Nicaraguan border; and thirdly at the "Robert and Catherine Wilson Tropical Gardens and Forest Preserve" situated on mountain slopes descending toward the Pacific Ocean, near the southwest corner of this country and the border with Panama.

Working mostly in the proximity of scientists and students from various parts of the world helped me to learn about the forest and to free myself from fears so I could take long walks into the jungle, finding and choosing my motifs and spending many hours daily working in the (seeming) solitude of the rain forest. In all these places of residence I was given spare lab space as a studio. This allowed me to continue with my work when the torrential rains arrived in the rainy season.

Costa Rica is located at a tropical latitude and is almost surrounded by two oceans. The excessive humidity favors intensive growth of vegetation in relatively poor, shallow soils. Yet, it was only through enormously long periods of time that evolution brought about adaptation of life to such conditions.

Today an extraordinary variety of plants live together in what is a successful struggling for the survival of the fittest. Some climb higher in search of sunlight. Others send air roots down to earth in search of more nourishment from the relatively thin soil that is formed mostly of decaying leaves. When one witnesses such a spectacular achievement of nature, one cannot remain indifferent to the present escalation of man-inflicted destruction of the rain forest.

With this collection of paintings I hope to bring into focus to the general public the existence of this habitat in its complexity and beauty.

1979 - Ripon College

 

How has your profession and career interacted with your life?

I believe that my profession/career and my life are very interrelated. For a person who is an artist in the more specific sense of the word, career and life become one. The fact is that I have been taking "art" to heart for a very long time. As an adolescent I was already very engaged when painting. I developed a strong desire to see the art of the museums and comprehend the particular message of those works both in "form" and "content". Literature and languages interested me very much also. I was very determined to make a "journey of discovery". I came from Argentina to the USA in the fifties as an exchange student, to a "sheltered" situation in a Mid-West University. But the summer after my arrival I went to New York City, to fend for myself. I went to see the museums, to take an art history course at Columbia University, to see Harlem, to see the Puerto Rican market and quarters, to see Coney Island--and (tor food and wage) to be a waitress at Schrafts on 5th Avenue, My life has had, all along, many contrasting aspects, and so has my art work. Since that first summer in New York City I have painted many more pictures, gotten degrees, seen many more museums, other parts of the world, and still, form and content" seem to be what I am looking for, what I seek to interpret and this search is as difficult and elusive, or as easy as life itself.

Have you encountered any professional difficulties because of being a woman?

Being a woman has not hindered my development as an artist. I have proceeded through life assuming that success depends mostly, if not solely on my own efforts. This belief was unconsciously formed, I think, in the early years of my life through coeducational school, Besides, my mother was then a very engaged High School history teacher and "the working role of the Woman" as well as the roles of being a mother and wife, were instilled in me through her example. (I did become a wife and mother also).

In strict professional terms it came as a natural thing to me to compete with persons of either sex and to expect to be treated fairly, as I think I have always been. However, I do realize (and the women's movement has brought this awareness to me into sharper focus) that if women want to compete with men, career wise, they have to make early choices and act accordingly, with strength and determination. The road to success is not easy for anybody.

Ripon as a place to live--

I find Ripon a very pleasant place. My living and working quarters are so close together that I don't lose any time and effort to move from one to the other. The campus environment (literal and otherwise) is always refreshing. The country side is within walking distance. I like the country and like to walk. But Ripon is also a state of mind and it is "Ripon College and its students to me. And when the students leave, this place becomes less meaningful--I become restless unless I get immediately involved in my own work and try to get adjusted to the situation: many of my friends have left.

My teaching--interaction with students

Considering that ordinarily about 90% of our perception of the world comes to us through our eyes, and since my task is, in great part, to teach my students "how to see," then I think I have a great mission at Ripon College (Teaching how to draw , to a great extent is training in the many and various ways of seeing). Besides, teaching means to me close human exchange: ideas, attitudes, problems, solutions to problems, projects for the future, new commitments. I think we all learn and grow through this very active process of transformation.

Mrs. Ogilvies artwork is presented in many public and private collections such as the Brooklyn Museum, the Nelson Gallery, Atkins Museum in Kansas City, the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts, the National Library in Paris and others. The numerous group shows she has participated in include: The Library of Congress 20th Print Exhibition, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition (1966-69), several Philadephia Academy shows, etc. Through her career she has collected 20 awards. One of her prints has very recently been included in the permanent collection of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. She is at present preparing a show of her European landscape that will open Tuesday, March 5 at the Bergstrom Art Museum in Neenah.