- Associated Press - Monday, March 13, 2017

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - The vibrant colors are the first thing you notice in the work of Stamford artist Princess Cureton.

The vivid hues captivate the eye, draw the viewer closer and then you might do a double-take when it appears that the imagery is literally reaching out to you. Step in close and it becomes apparent that there is a three-dimensional element in Cureton’s work, involving pieces of cloth, sand, glass, beads and other objects from the far-flung locales in which she has lived.

“I love it when someone walks up to a piece and says, ‘Wait a minute, is this real?,’” the artist says. “They ask, ‘May I touch it?’ and I will tell them, ‘Yes.’”

The artist dreams of making giant canvases in which many elements will leave the wall. “I want to start with a foot on the floor that is coming out of the canvas. I’m talking large scale, hanging from the floor all the way up to the ceiling.”

The longtime Loft Artists Association member and teacher in the Greenwich public school system is moving to North Carolina this summer to a house near Charlotte, where she will have a studio with the extra space to execute her dream of big sculptural pieces. The Loft is sponsoring her solo show, “Off the Wall,” opening March 24, in honor of this new phase in the artist’s life.

Although she put down roots in Connecticut over the past two decades, Cureton has always thought of herself as a nomad. She was born in Washington, D.C., moved on to Brooklyn, New York, to study art education at the Pratt Institute, and then set sail to the Virgin Islands for her first teaching job. The artist’s travels have taken her all through the Caribbean, Greece, Cyprus, China and Japan, deepening her love of other cultures and fueling her desire to use those life experiences in her work.

“I’m a colorist,” she says of the way she has tried to capture the light and the unique hues of each place she has visited.

Cureton sees her art as a combination of the external sights and sounds of her travels with the interior impact they’ve had on her emotionally and aesthetically.

“I don’t just bring back tales; I’ve collected things from each place to use in the work,” she says of such objects as a suitcase full of beautiful handmade paper brought back from Japan, where she worked as a Fulbright scholar after retiring from teaching in 2014. Bits of the paper can be seen in the work in the Loft show.

The sculptural paintings are a way Cureton holds onto the places she visits in a literal sense. There is a strong nostalgic element in the work she has done at the Cape Cod Fine Arts Center that includes sand from Provincetown, Massachusetts, along with broken shells. “I love the Cape and I try to take it with me,” she says.

After seeing her work, and enjoying a laughter-filled conversation with the artist, I ask if her first name was something she adopted to suit her artistic personality.

“I wish I could tell you a wonderful story,” she says, laughing, of the fact that “Princess” is her given name. “I’m one of nine children with names like Ann and Marie and Oscar. People assume I might have been the first born or the last born, but I was in the middle. It took me until I was an adult in my 40s to ask my mother, and I found out that it was the name of her best friend from Greenville, South Carolina. So I was honored.”

The name has been a conversation starter and even the source of some practical benefits.

“It bumped me up to business class one time” on a plane trip, Cureton says, with a laugh.

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Information from: Connecticut Post, https://www.connpost.com

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