Allison Stewart

October 22 - November 27, 2004 Pensacola Museum of Art
Introduction by David S. Rubin
Curator of Visual Arts
Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans

According to recent envioronmental studies, the wetlands of Louisiana are vanishing at so rapid a rate that, over the next fifty years, 500 square miles of the existiing coastline will have completely eroded away." To quote a leading radio correspondent on the subject, "Every year, a chunk of land almost the size of Manhatten turns into open water."

A trained biologist and longtime resident of Louisiana, Allison Stewart has been aware of the state's coastal crisis sine 1994. In her current exhibition, which includes paintings, monoprints, and drawings produced over the past decade, Stewart reveals her heartfelt responses to a situation that she cannot prevent from happening, but which she can poetically interpret and cope with through stoic meditations. Employing an intuitive approach, Stewart paints the landscape from memory rather than from direct observation. Working with gesso, paint charcoal, and glazes, she applies her materials in layers, slowly and rhythmically as if to simulate the motions of the swirling winds and splashing waters that are at once beautiful to behold, yet threateing and destructive.

The devastation to the swamps adn marshes, of course, is not caused solely by natural forces. In paintings like Marsh Moment II (2000) and Vermillion Tide (2003), Stewart presents a quiet protest against the abuses to the environment that are ultimately attributable to industrialization and urbanization, that is, the human disregard for nature. With plants delineated by black calligraphic lines suggestive of death and decay, and water and air rendered in warm reds and oranges evocative of global warming, Stewart's paintings poignantly remind us that it is never too late to begin caring for the terrains that we inhabit.

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