Beth Pedersen, winner of this year’s Spark Award for Unsung Hero, has practiced art for decades. Beth’s work explores nature and pertinent environmental issues through a variety of materials and mediums, from oil painting to print-making, which she expresses through both abstraction and representation. She has exhibited extensively regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Once a realist painter, New York City’s art world and the ripple effect at SUNY New Paltz College had a powerful influence on her work. She studied with Ilya Bolotowsky and George Wardlaw and quickly turned “ab-ex.” During the 1970s, when Beth was raising a family, she focused on watercolor, pastel, and pencil drawings. She spent those years examining the present landscape with memories of the Hudson River Valley and the farmlands in central New Jersey. The conflict of those bucolic memories versus the environmental issues we face today gives purpose to Beth’s work.
Beth’s life experiences continued to have an impact on her work when she moved from New York City to Oklahoma and again to the Upstate New York in the Schenectady/Albany area. A final move to Western New York provided her with the opportunity to acquire an MFA at the University at Buffalo, where she studied and made abstract prints and paintings examining human’s earthly relationships.
In the decades following her MFA, Beth has continued to flip back and forth between representation and abstraction. She is currently printing encaustic monotypes as well as three-dimensional encaustic sculptures on recycled materials in her studio in Clarence. She continues to be a community arts advocate through her work on films to preserve and uplift the voices of other visual artists, her mentorship of high school students pursuing the field of visual arts, and her membership in the Buffalo Society of Artists.