2010-02-05 / Community

Local Artist Takes Inspiration From Everywhere

By Mallory Wyman

Still Life Costa Rica Drawn from items set up on a table when Holt arrived at a picnic in Costa Rica, dinner had to wait as she painted this serendipitous still life. Still Life Costa Rica Drawn from items set up on a table when Holt arrived at a picnic in Costa Rica, dinner had to wait as she painted this serendipitous still life. Listening to Rockaway artist Shirl Holt talk about art and creativity is like listening to the devout describe their deity. “Art is like the spirit of living … It’s life for me,” she says. And like a prophet hearing voices, Holt’s work also speaks to her. “It always says ‘I’m done.’... [It] always tells me when it’s completed.” So the fact that Holt started her artistic endeavors early on in life should come as no surprise. Growing up in New Hampshire, nestled in the White Mountains, Holt remembers taking her art supplies out to draw the mountains.

In a way, she never stopped. Much of her inspiration seems to come from the power of scenery, whether it be capturing the colors of the Costa Rican forest or seeing the perfect still life on a picnic table. Holt credits her creativity to her mother. “She was just so creative,” she says. “She always supported me.”

Watchers at the Gates of Hell Using other artists as inspiration, Holt created this collage after seeing a rendition of “Macbeth” performed at the Rockaway Artists Alliance stage. Holt included many symbols of darkness to accompany the “darkest of all Shakespeare’s plays.” Watchers at the Gates of Hell Using other artists as inspiration, Holt created this collage after seeing a rendition of “Macbeth” performed at the Rockaway Artists Alliance stage. Holt included many symbols of darkness to accompany the “darkest of all Shakespeare’s plays.” Early on, Holt pursued sculpture and had her first exhibition with a large interactive castle that she spent two months crafting. The castle included a moat, catwalks, a gate that lowered and rose, and a whole cast of knights and damsels. Her projects have grown slightly in scale since then. In addition to her current repertoire of poetry, painting, drawing, and collages, Holt is returning to sculpture, currently hard at work creating a large piece for future exhibition.

After moving to New York from New Hampshire, Holt graduated from Queens College and spent a long career as a mental health professional, all the while spending many summers in Rockaway.

Following her retirement four years ago, Holt has truly dedicated herself full-time to her art. “It’s one of the times of my life that I really love,” she said. Holt has also been a member of the Rockaway Artists Alliance for four years which has lead to many exhibitions and a beneficial interaction with other local artists. “I’ve just gotten so much from other people who were engaged in art and seeing their work,” she said. “It’s just wonderful to get to know [other artists].”

As for her future plans, Holt simply said, “I look forward to creating a lot more.”

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