Ashfield resident Robert Masla is a full-time professional artist whose exhibition history extends over 40 years.

He is known for his for his landscape paintings and in this digital extra, Masla discusses the spiritual meaning of a particular work he did just after returning to his Western Mass home from Mexico in 2020. 

Watch Masla talk about his most recent series of paintings here.

Read the full transcript:

Robert Masla, Artist: The landscape is still, for me, that archetypal, visual image that connects us to who we are.

When I first came back from Mexico, and the COVID was starting to really rage, there was a blizzard.

This is just up the road from my home and studio in Ashfield. And sat in the car, did some sketches. And went back and did a series of watercolors of this tree, which is very — it’s actually a very monumental tree, in itself. But, the image has a spiritual significance.

I was very much taken, years ago, with the work of Caspar David Friedrich. He kind of laid the groundwork for raising landscape painting up from, you know, the very low class position it had, to have its own spiritual significance and be on equal footing with portraiture and historical painting. ‘Cause he infused it with symbolism.

And part of his symbolism was the use of fir trees and trees as a sense of hope and faith. And I was thinking, when I was sitting in the blizzard, sketching this, “we’re gonna need a lot of hope and faith right now.”

We’re gonna need strength to make it through these, you know, very difficult times. Both individually, as we’re becoming isolated, but also collectively, as a nation and a world, that has to work together to get beyond all these things.