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Louise LeBourgeois- Approaching Light

On Display: July 1 , 2014 –September 12, 2014

Artist Reception July 2 5-7pm
Fermilab Art Gallery, Wilson Hall

Approaching Light includes paintings that span the years 2002 to 2014. I've pursued different questions in my art during that time, but the theme of place and space has remained constant. Before I finished high school, I lived in New Orleans; Oxford, England; Clemson, South Carolina; Chicago. But New Orleans remained central in my life. My parents were born and raised there; they both had ancestors who settled in Louisiana before the Louisiana Purchase.

Early in my painting career, I found writing artist's statements incredibly frustrating. I felt like I was never getting at it. I didn't know what it was. I took a creative writing class as a voyage towards what I could not articulate. What appeared on the page, and stayed, was the fact that I was a Southerner, a New Orleanian, who had lived up North since I was a young teenager. No wonder I was obsessed with imagined landscapes, places vivid and real in my consciousness, but places I could not quite touch or reach.

Writing led to a new path in my painting. In 2004, I started to paint images of sugar cane and sugar kettles, because sugar was the industry that lured my ancestors to Louisiana in the 1700s. I was working on these paintings when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, breaking levees and flooding my hometown.

Yet, I am also a Chicagoan and an open water swimmer. As much as my family history tugs at me, I have chosen to live my life in the city where I landed as an adolescent, a place vibrant with art, and where facing east means a breathtaking absence of visual clutter. Lake Michigan has long been my muse. When I swim in the lake, I am a small body in a vast space, immersed in rhythms I do not control.

In The Stones of Florence, Mary McCarthy writes, "Painting…could master a class of subject that was forbidden ground to the sculptor; that is to say, dreams and visions-reality in its hallucinated and impalpable aspect." Through painting, I can make the intangible (loss, yearning) tangible. Like swimming, painting invites us to enter a non-solid space, untethered to the usual rules of gravity, and painting can take us even further, to a place where time bends, where memory takes precedence over daily transactions, a mysterious space where words fall away. All that remains is seeing.

Thank you to all who made this exhibition possible and sincere appreciation for the loan of artwork from Louise LeBourgeois and Packer Schopf Gallery.


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last modified 6/29/2014   

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