The Mountain Lake Workshop originated in 1980 as a series of conferences founded by artist and curator Ray Kass and co-directed by art historian Howard Risatti. The artworks produced at the Mountain Lake Workshop were often collaborative and explored the philosophical processes of artmaking. Local residents worked alongside visiting artists and specialists from both the arts and sciences, creating projects that pushed past traditional boundaries of art, dance, and performance.
Featured in Rural Avant-Garde: The Mountain Lake Workshop, artist and reverend Howard Finster regularly imbued his work with religious overtones. During Finster’s five days with the Mountain Lake Workshop in 1985—referred to as a “workout”—participants worked with the artist to produce more than a hundred artworks. Those collaborating with him traced his stencils, sawed and painted wood, and poured concrete under his guidance.
Belly Full of Hate and Burn Your Candle Into Another World caught my attention because of their size and Howard Finster’s use of vibrant colors. The works are experimental, almost whimsical, and intense. Assuming the religious intention Finster wants to convey, the artworks successfully capture the urgency of his message. In the spirit of the Mountain Lake Workshop, experimentation and collaboration is evident in both works. For example, in Belly Full of Hate, there is a stack of animals in which a polar bear is placed on the back of a very large frog. Finster also includes a self-portrait as the “Man of Vision” cutout in Burn Your Candle Into Another World. Both works are full of intriguing and evocative details that warrant an in-person visit to see what you can find up-close.
—Matilyn Hull, communications & development associate
Belly Full of Hate and Burn Your Candle Into Another World, along with more of Finster’s artworks, are on view in Rural Avant-Garde: The Mountain Lake Workshop through November 1, 2021.