For Erika deVries, having children was an awe-inspiring experience, a lesson in love and seeing how love is a resource that never runs out. Watching her 6-year-old son learn how to write made her “very aware of human learning. Watching them grow, I saw myself grow in the process.” As he struggled to form the letters, she asked him to write the phrase “Our Infinite Capacity for Love” because “it seemed like such a mature concept,” made more touching written out in his beginner’s handwriting.
That was the beginning of a series of pieces in which she collaborated with her son, but that first phrase continued to resonate; ultimately, she transformed the handwritten words into a large neon-pink sign. The sign is now being installed outside the Tibetan Center of Woodstock, located on Route 28 in Kingston, where the glowing words will be visible to motorists traveling by on the highway through the fall.
DeVries, who recently moved up to West Saugerties from Brooklyn full-time and at presstime had just given birth to her third child, approached the Tibetan Center about hanging her piece because she felt that it was especially in harmony with its spiritual teachings. She also wanted to pay a tribute to the beauty of Tibet and the difficulties experienced by its people following a trip in 2011 to northern India and the Ladakh region (formerly part of Tibet), which included a visit to the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. “This piece expresses a sentiment that includes many of the wonderful gifts of insight and the open heart that the people and the plight of Tibet have come to symbolize in our current time on the Earth,” she writes in a statement.
The official opening of the piece will take place on August 4 – an event at which deVries will also display her photos from the Hudson Valley and northern India. Meanwhile, the artist will be opening up her studio, located at 9 Lois Lane, off Bandcamp Road in Saugerties, to visitors on June 29 and 30. Weather permitting, she’ll be displaying her photographs like prayer flags hung outside, as well as more neon pieces and small installations scattered around the property, with a self-guided map.
Born in California, deVries grew up in West Berlin and attended the Art Institute of Chicago. She continues to teach Art at New York University – her partner also retains his economic ties to the City – but is increasingly becoming more embedded in the local community. (Another neon word piece hangs in the window of Outdated Antique Café, in Uptown Kingston.) Her travels in the Himalayas “led to the decision to move up here. I’m very inspired by the people I’m meeting up here, the commitment to nature and growth.”
Erika deVries opening, Sunday, August 4, 2 p.m., on view June 21-fall, Tibetan Center of Woodstock, 875 Route 28, Woodstock; (845) 383-1774, www.tibetancenter.org. Open studio, Saturday-Sunday, June 29-30, 12 noon-6 p.m., 9 Lois Lane, Saugerties; firstname.lastname@example.org, (646)-712-0402.