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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