The Nancy Margolis Gallery in NY is currently displaying “Midnight Sun”, an exhibition by Seattle Artist League instructor Charity Baker. The show features figurative landscapes in both small scale plein-air and large scale studio paintings. The collection aims to examine the psychological effects of perpetual sunlight. Yearning to reconnect with nature during the global pandemic, Baker experienced a profound uplifting effect from the sun during periods of isolation. Fascinated by the power of light, she questioned what would happen if the sun never fully set. To experience this, Baker traveled to Böllnas, Sweden, in the summer of 2022. Through this series of paintings, Baker investigates how the midnight sun illuminates moments of both day and night. DAYLIGHT2022Oil on canvas56 x 56 inches “As exciting as constant light can be, it affects quietly functioning parts of the body like our biological clock, cognition, memory, arousal, sleep and energy balance. I wanted to experience this World of the Midnight Sun and paint it up close.” — Charity Baker TREES (MORNING) – TREES (NIGHT) – TREES (DAY)2022Oil on masonite panel9 x 12 inches Baker created a collection of landscapes through direct observation, each featuring the sun as a constant presence. The paintings are intentionally disorienting, as they obscure the time of day and challenge our assumptions about the stillness of evening. As a series, the studies communicate a sense of ambiguity and exuberance for a world illuminated by the sun. BATHERS (MORNING) – BATHERS (NIGHT)2022Oil on masonite panel8 x 10 inches ORBADEN SUNSET2022Oil on canvas50 x 57 inches In contrast to Baker’s small-scale plein-air studies, her large-scale studio paintings explore the effects of perpetual sunlight on a person’s inner world. These works were created in her studio, separated from the original source of inspiration, so they focus more heavily on human experiences than on natural representations. The sun’s illumination reveals private actions and desires, highlighting moments charged with emotion and intimacy between pairs of figures. While darkness typically provides a sense of privacy to explore longings, mischief, and uncertainty, the midnight sun’s light exposes these vulnerabilities and desires for all to witness. ARCHIPELAGO II2023Oil on canvas18 x 19 inches VALLEY (NIGHT) – VALLEY (DAY)2022Oil on masonite panel8 x 10 inches – 6 x 6 inches MIDNIGHT SUN2023Oil on canvas31 x 31 inches “While we stepped back during the pandemic, Nature dominated even a city like New York, and I was reminded about my inherent connection to it, most specifically to the sky. The sun got me through incredible moments of isolation.” — Charity Baker BIRCH – ARCHIPELAGO III2023Oil on masonite panel20 x 16 inches – 10 x 8 inches IN THE FOREST WITH STARS2022Oil on canvas36 x 24 inches LAKE SWIMMERS I – II – III2022Oil on panel6 x 6 inches – 8 x 8 inches – 6 x 6 inches SUMMER FOREST AT NIGHT2023Oil on canvas67 x 74 inches Charity Baker currently serves as a faculty member and Working Artist in Residence at the New York Studio School. In addition to her work in New York, Baker also teaches online art classes with the Seattle Artist League. Her show at the Nancy Margolis Gallery runs through March 31, 2023. Thank you to Charity Baker and the Nancy Margolis Gallery for use of quotes and images for this post.