In two days, I make my annual pilgrimage to an art show.  Specifically, I block out a whole day–should it be needed–to visit one small tent at a three-day festival that ties up the entirety of a thriving downtown for that time.  At the tent, a slim woman with straight black hair, a smile, a bow ever-at-the-ready, and a feast of swirling, furling color rolled onto canvas waits to greet visitors.  I have prints and canvases on my walls, postcards and greeting cards on my shelf, and saved files of her art to study between times.  This trip, dare I say it, is as close to a public demonstration of homage and pilgrimage as I make.

Manami Lingerfelt  draws on the mystical, the fairy tale, the wild, the energetic, the mythic, the tidal, the primordial, and the animal in murals that swoon across rooms and canvases that can crouch humbly in a corner or arrive triumphal in a brassy fanfare.  With titles like Look at my new tatoo (a whale adorned in swirling roses), Moonrise (a sphere composed of bubbling spheres atop geometries), and Special Delivery (an owl from which drifts of flowers are born from flight), a joyous burst of color and movement sprawl and play and drench.


And at the heart of her technique is the furled and furling twist, perhaps origami-like, perhaps the frissioning pearl at the heart of everything alive.  Like the center of a flower, a dizzying impressionist landscape of points and shades and ombres, each piece–be it mermaid or fox, sun or fork, jellyfish or tree–rests on a single premise:


roll up color into a tight twist.  And another, and another.  A stippled, pointillist effect, a congregation of murmuring, giggling twirls of sushi-like layers gather on her canvas to become roots and planets, octopuses and houses, hedgehogs and chakras, each wheeling in cubes or medallions or pyramids.  Like the rising tide of rolled paper art in crafting circles, she ties and binds and folds, in the earliest definitions we have of the word furl–a term reaching into the hazy days of ancient language, turning and layering into the humble fold and roll we know.

One of my favorites, Turtle Moon, shifts these furling rolls into muted shades of russett and cinnamon, highlighted by a few turns of peach and straw, to mark the earth upon which a turtle perches, neck straining up to the smiling moon.  The rolls transform now into hexagons in rose and tangerine, pumpkin and cream against the blued skin of the creature.  Crystal cubes fall with the flowers into the cool nightscape, a lemon yellow light drenching the moon’s pate.  To the side, a bare white tree snags grains of salt, flecks of sand, flicks of ice, and dancing flakes to show us the season around the quiet conversation between turtle and moon.  (2016, oil on canvas)

  1. Find a piece of art that arrests you, even if only for a split second.  (Think broadly:  architecture, a boy’s perfect first-date outfit, a statue, a plate, your kindergartner’s finger painting, a gallery or museum piece, a velvet Elvis, the intricate movement of a b-boy dancing, jewelry.)
  2. Describe it.
  3. Describe it again.
  4. Imagine you have a one-inch frame.  Put that frame somewhere on the art.  (Think narrowly:  Elvis’s belt buckle, the boy’s shoe, a doorway of the building, the purple blob in the finger painting, a nearly-hidden cat in the gallery piece, the b-boy’s elbow in a windmill, the clasp.)
  5. Describe only what you see in the frame.
  6. Pull these layers together.  Think of this as ekphrasisand as an opportunity to speak what you see.

provide a glimpse of the joyous beauty of life … 
to spread this happiness to the world…

–Manami Lingerfelt, Artist Statement

(Please visit Manami’s website to see her art; Turtle Moon is on the portfolio page.)