Three generations of family artIn a review I wrote sometime ago, I stated that recent research indicates that creativity may be an inherited ability.Certainly some families seem to be more highly endowed with artistic skills than most; however others disagree. Their thinking is that we are all hard wired to be creative, not only in the arts but also in just about any other human enterprise. Whatever the case, the current exhibition at the Bermuda Society of Arts, entitled The Descendants, showcases a family exhibition that is notably creative.This exhibition consists of 50 works of art by three generations of the Kemble family, beginning with William T Kemble, who retired here in Bermuda in 1970 and became an active member of BSoA. He is represented in this exhibition with a single painting of a ruined Bermuda house.His daughter, Katherine, who is married to Cummings Zuill, is the next generation in line of descent. Her contribution to the show includes multimedia works, as well as paintings. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and then worked as an interior designer for 50 years. Like her father, who in his fifties took up painting, it also has become her passion.I was particularly struck by her use of collage and especially how she incorporates natural specimens into the composition, such as a dried and pressed hydrangea or even rootlets.While Zuill’s work tends to the abstract, it is essentially visual poetry. Take, for example, her Winter Landscape. It is a small collage, restricted mostly to browns and greys, but with sufficient background white to give it spaciousness. In the lower middle there is a nest of rootlets, suggesting the skeletal aspects of a northern winter.Katherine’s daughter, Elise P Church is also a remarkable abstract painter. Like her mother, she obviously has a great sense of placement in organising a composition. She also has a fine sensibility to colour. Although her paintings are abstract, they are, according to the artist’s statement, based on sections from old photographs which she converts into colourful paintings. She says that her palette is influenced by Bermuda colours.Whitney Robbins, Katherine Zuill’s niece, is responsible for what she calls the Brown Series. She began her investigation in 2019, as she questioned whether there was a bias against the colour brown. I have an understanding of this possible bias. Some years ago I made an art series based on rust. Although I thought rust beautiful, it did not generate much interest. And yet some of our most valued woods, such as mahogany or ebony or Bermuda cedar, are variations of the colour brown. Likewise, soil. Most soils are brown, but often it is called dirt or sometimes dust and yet, our lives depend on soil or what is grown in it.In viewing the Brown Series, I was reminded of wood panelled rooms, as in fine libraries in which are also comfortable brown leather chairs and maybe a fireplace with roaring fire. Brown is beautiful.Katy Robbins is another niece of Kathy Zuill and another descendent in this exhibition’s quintet. Her work, in the strictest definition of abstract, tends also to the abstract. Looking at the Latin in the etymology of abstract, which is abstrahere, it implies a drawing away. I understand this as a kind of simplification of something and in that sense, all the visual arts are to some degree abstract, however Katy’s miniatures are, with the exception of her grandfather’s painting, the least abstract.Katy’s paintings have a snapshot quality and indeed, they are based on snapshots, of found photographs of unknown people and places. In her depictions, many faces are faceless in that such features eyes, noses of mouths are often missing. She says that she set out to make a painting a day for 100 days. The process pushed her to explore new materials, textures etc.I realise that for many, abstract suggests for them the absence of anything related to their view of the visual world, but in the original sense of the word, all abstracts can, to some degree, be seen as relating to the real world. It is impossible to actually get away completely from reality, of the world we have inherited.The Descendants continues through March 23. Its a highly creative exhibition and one I recommend. In a March 11 The Royal Gazette article about this exhibition, it suggests that this show is a kind of Swan Song in that Kathy Zuill and family will shortly move to Boston. They may be moving but not so far away as to make it impossible for another exhibition down the line. One can hope.