Great Barrington Artist Virginia Bradley awarded 2020 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship Finalist Award for Painting. 

Artist Virginia Bradley has been awarded a 2020 Massachusetts Cultural Council Finalist Painting Fellowship for her “Yellowstone Series”, which is affectingly addressing the effects of climate change. The independent jury recognized Bradley’s work in a highly competitive field of 559 Massachusetts painters. The awards are anonymously judged, based solely on the artistic quality and creative ability of the work submitted. Virginia was one 13 painters who were honored with the fellowship and a monetary grant. The Painting Fellowship is a bi-annual competition.

Virginia Bradley’s research into natural phenomena, geological and oceanographic formation serves as a starting point for her abstract works. Like an alchemist she transforms the work through the use of diverse materials and physical acts. Virginia treats the painting with a myriad of different methods, while simultaneously experimenting with chemical reactions to the painting’s surface. Thus her studio becomes a laboratory for experimentation, an athanor for the interaction of diverse materials. She repeats these processes until the piece evolves into a finished state of multiple luminous layers and attaining a higher level of physicality and contemplation.

Yellowstone 3 large scale abstract painting
Yellowstone 12 geyser abstract landscape snow blue
Yellowstone 3 large scale abstract painting

The “Yellowstone Series” is inspired by the Fountain Paint Pots in the Gibbon Geyser Basin at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Half of the approximately 1000 geysers in the world are located in Yellowstone National Park.

Climate change is having an adverse effect on the geysers. The Yellowstone geysers are fed by the Madison River. The water flow of the river has dropped by 15% in recent years due to climate change. Less rainfall leads to less pressure on the on the geyser reservoirs which mean fewer eruptions. Already the amount of geyser eruptions has dramatically decreased. Eventually the geysers could completely disappear.

The paintings depart from photographs Bradley took at Basin after the first snow had fallen. Shades of blue, red, yellow, orange, grey and brown are present in the water and mud creating varying combinations of textures and color. These differing colors are created by oxidation of the iron in the mud. Rising gases and heat cause the bubbling action in the Paint Pots. The very cold nights were contrasted with warm days, which created a rich, steamy and colorful world to investigate. The paintings poignantly convey the delicate and ephemeral state of these natural wonders, that are about to be destroyed by one of the most serious issues of our time.

The larger works reference the mystic world of the geyser steam and the smaller works are intimate views looking into the Paint Pots. The Yellowstone Paintings are composed of multiple intricate layers of oil on canvas and can be viewed at:

Yellowstone 13 pink red atmospheric oil painting landscape
Yellowstone 1 blue abstract geyser landscape oil painting

Virginia Bradley’s spacious and airy studio 1200 sq ft studio is located just five minutes North of Great Barrington. The studio is open to studio visits by appointment and follows COVID safety guidelines. Please contact the studio at to set up your appointment.

For an overview of Virginia’s painting practice please see:

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