The following are excerpts from interviews of Ned Martin:

Your "Before and After" Exhibit explores how the creative process can be dramatically altered by a single event. What can viewers expect to experience in regareds to this dichotomy?

The exhibit is physically divided into 2 sections, separating the paintings created before and after February 17, 2013 (the day of the horse accident when my wife passed away). The high walls prevent the viewer from seeing both sections at once. In order to get from the BEFORE to the AFTER section, the viewer is forced to travel through a third secluded area that contains a video (a Ned Martin creation) which aims to show my experience on that fateful day in the middle of the cornfield. My intent is that the viewer goes through the creative journey with me… before, the moment of, and after.

I simply am not the same person after the day my wife died. Therefore I can not paint the same.

Can you explain what you mean by the creative journey?

The creative process is a mystery. That is, we really don’t know how it works yet, we can employ the process to produce art. The process is altered, sometimes dramatically, by our past and current life experiences. I simply am not the same person after the day my wife died. Therefore I can not paint the same. Before that day, I painted in the realism genre which draws upon reality. After she passed away, my reality was something I wanted to run and hide from. I turned to the abstract genre because I thought it would not involve emotions only to discover that abstract painting opened a floodgate of fear, joy, sadness, laughter and tears.

The saving grace of the journey was in the discovery that the emotions themselves are actually the fuel to my creative process.

Usually I don’t pry but, would you mind sharing the story of what happened?

On February 17, of last year my wife, Renee and I were grooming our horses on the Eck family farm in the Nippenose Valley. She was holding both ropes as I brushed. The horses spooked, one rope let go, the other formed a tangle and she was dragged and hit a tree.

Describe your Art before February  17.

I painted realism—inspired from my world around me—landscapes, people and things that showed character. I felt at home in a rural setting and I spent many hours walking in the local fields and woods in Pennsylvania searching for paintings. My creative process was about finding light and textures, color and mood.

How did your art change after Feb 17?

I truly do not see things in the same way. Now paintings come to me from within and present themselves as hungry children vying for attention. And there are so many I fret in my ability to proliferate. The outward search for paintings has ceased. But, when I do attempt to look outward the image is scrambled. I try to make sense of the simplest of things but, my reality is like a bad signal.

When did you come up with the idea of Before and After?

I’m not really sure. So much of last year was a blur. It became evident though that there was a discernible division in my art. Not just a change but a radical transformation had taken place and the before and after concept became self-evident. I frankly

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was worried that the Gallery at Penn College would not accept my new work based on my acceptance of my realism work. But, they seemed to have embraced the concept. Of course I still have my personal fears of how the public will perceive the show. That is the gamble of an artist, to spend a year and a half producing work that no one sees then wham! You have this big art show and really put yourself out there for the critics.

You have had extensive formal art training yet, you consider yourself self-taught. How do you explain this disconnect?

Probably because I had to put myself through college and I could not afford an art college. And even as I continued my studies, I never found that mentor. The life of an artist is filled with alone time. Being self-reliant and independent comes with the job I suppose.

Do you paint plein air?

I enjoy painting plein air though I have not availed myself to the outdoors for well over a year. Seems I have been a bit of a hermit.  I like the idea of packing my field easel and getting out of Manhattan after I fulfill this show. I could use a break and change of scenery.

You live and paint in Manhattan, New York but where do you live and paint in PA?

Yes, I have a studio in Manhattan. My wife and I spent every weekend, often extended weekends in PA with her parents, Rod and Susie Eck at their log cabin adjacent to the family farm where we kept our horses.  I painted in the horse stables most of the time or in the log cabin during the winter. It was very peaceful and quiet especially compared to living and painting in Manhattan during the week.

You have studied, lived and traveled abroad yet, many of your pieces have been influenced by Central Pennsylvania. What is it about Central PA that speaks to you versus other global locations?

I was born in PA and many of my standards were cultivated from the land, people and the sense of community that is uniquely Pennsylvania. I learned the value of a good day’s work, a neighbor that I could rely on and that the simplest of things remain the most highly treasured.

I not only fell in love with Renee and her family but also the community of people and the land itself.

Does the landscape inspire you?

I not only fell in love with Renee and her family but also the community of people and the land itself. There was, I thought, an endless wealth of inspiration in Pennsylvania, an endless supply of paintings.

How was painting on the River Seine in Paris and in Scotland?

Pure heaven. In Paris I packed a bottle of wine, cheese, sausage and bread and spent long days at the water’s edge. And in Scotland I was staying at a friend’s castle. I strapped my easel and supplies to a bicycle and explored. The sky moved so rapidly there it was like painting a movie in fast-forward. Very tricky but exhilarating, I painted 5 landscape paintings and sold 3 and traded 1 for a really good bottle of scotch.

Is there a message in your BEFORE and AFTER exhibit that you want the viewer to walk away with?

You know, normally, I would have never wanted to explain my art because I have always believed that interpretation belonged solely to the viewer. Who am I then to tell you what you should see or feel from my art? With that said, these are not normal times.

First, I am an artist. It is my job to show you the world around you. Artists are like mirrors. We reflect back to you, through some filtration of our personal emotions, your own existence. This Before and After exhibit has its core in death.  It serves as a reminder of others whom we have lost and more, that we all walk on the same path to a certain final end. This may make the viewer uncomfortable or sad.  But I so hope they see that it is simultaneously about life infused with the beauty and inspiration to move forward filled with gratitude and joy. There truly is a healing power in art.