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July 28, 2019 - August 28, 2019

Widlund Gallery Exhibit - Elemental Connection by Joanne Millis, Bryanna Millis & Julia Bethmann



JOANNE MILLIS has been observing and drawing pattern, texture, form and color in nature and people for as long as she can remember. Curiosity about how things work and love of malleable materials brought Joanne to functional ceramics. For a time, the vessel became her canvas.

Manipulating paper and printmaking are Joanne’s current focus as she explores origami, bookmaking, experimental journaling and collaging.

Art making is a part of Joanne’s life and the lives of her daughters, Julia and Bryanna. It began as expressive play, pastime, then studies and teaching. Soon it evolved into a method of recording travels, experiences of the world. Their individual methods, ideas and current passions are collected here in Widlund Gallery to share with you!


BRYANNA MILLIS creates conceptual environmental mixed-media art that focuses on the linkages between heart and mind—feeling and intellect—and how we can change reality through what we believe. Her work is situated within broader themes of place and time in the Middle East, where she has lived and worked extensively over the last 11 years. Using cut paper, paint, thread, objects, and found materials, she roots esoteric concepts in concrete experiences of specific histories, present moments, and imagined futures.

As societies worldwide have become increasingly unmoored, as a consequence of consumerism and power pressures, there is a universal hunger to reconnect to meaning. This takes form in learning to listen to our hearts, in the desire to revere and protect the earth, in counteracting political efforts to divide us with an understanding of the ways in which we are one. Bryanna’s ideas area informed by spiritual, philosophical, and poetic traditions including Buddhism, Kashmir Shaivism, romanticism, environmentalism, and the philosophy of science. Through her artwork she seeks to connect, visualize, and communicate her understanding of transformational concepts and to call forth an extreme idealism rooted in recognition of what is.

The five alchemical elements–earth, water, air, fire, spirit—are important in Bryanna’s work and she incorporates them through color and materials: greens, browns, blues, oranges, reds; paints she has ground from desert stone, salt, nets, boats, feathers, thread, and burned objects. A recent example is The Net of Curiosity—a blue hand-knotted fishing net that Bryanna made and photographed catching stones, trees, and people in Azraq, in the Eastern desert of Jordan.

Bryanna’s current project, Imagination of Salvation, documents and accompanies her collaboration with Jordanian artists and scientists as they work towards personal, social, ecological, and economic transformation in Azraq, Jordan. Through their efforts to rehabilitate a former oasis in the desert, destroyed by mismanagement of water resources, they seek to change what people believe to be possible. The works in this series include photographs of actions in the desert with a blue net, blue boats, painted stones, and evaporating water; aerial maps that Bryanna cut, painted, and sewn along seasonal streams; mixed-media collages with date palm fronds; landscape paintings of rock pigment, salt, and charcoal; and the recurring image of the human heart being discovered ­­­again and again.

Bryanna has a Masters in Development Economics from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a Bachelor’s in Communications and Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2019 she had a solo show at IA&A at Hillyer in Washington, DC, and will attend the Athena Standards Residency in Athens, Greece. Bryanna lives and works in Washington, DC.


JULIA BETHMANN is a mixed media artist working in printmaking and painting. Julia’s current work is a part of her personal search for space and mental clarity as well as experimentation with materials.

The Universe Series of circular monotypes are made using layers of Cold Wax medium mixed with oil paint. Cold Wax provides the oil paint with body and allows for a resist effect between layers of color. The circular shape is meaningful throughout history in spiritual iconography. This Spring, I have been exploring this shape specifically through a mixed media labyrinth project. More about this project is shared on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfQtI3_CK_M&t=46s

The mini landscape paintings are also created using cold wax medium and oil paint. The blue series offers an abstracted view of water. I love to be on the water, and find a real connection with water elements. I envision being “in” the water in these paintings. I also began to incorporate mark making into these paintings, which is possible due to the body that Cold Wax medium give to the oil paint.  The orange series paintings are experiments in color combinations with an abstracted landscape. Water is also a focal point of these pieces; a long range view of water.

Julia studied Photography and Printmaking at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy. Julia is a member of the Newburyport Art Association in Newburyport, MA.

Julia loves to create and learn new things, which is inspired by her upbringing where she was encouraged to pursue interests and explore new ideas.  This exhibit with her sister and mother is a special opportunity to learn more about how each of us create.


July 28, 2019
August 28, 2019
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