Kathryn Markel Fine Arts is pleased to announce an exhibition of mixed media paintings entitled "Inside" by New Orleans artist Allison Stewart. The paintings in this exhibit reflect Stewart's response to the recent catastrophic disaster wreaked by Hurricane Katrina along the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Trained as a biologist, Stewart ventures inside natural processes to investigate the mysteries of the living world. Issues of beauty and loss, time and transformation are expressed through a combination of charcoal, pigment dispersions, glazes and varnishes, building up layers to record a floating world of vanishing landscapes. In a time of exploding technological information, Stewart presents a world in which the unfolding mysteries of the natural world can be slowly perceived.
A longtime resident of New Orleans, Allison Stewart has gained recognition for her large-scale paintings of the threatened landscape and coastal crises of Louisiana since 1994. The artist portrays characteristic landscapes of the verdant yet endangered swampy south with a biologist's sensibility and an abstract-expressionistic style.
Stewart paints not from photographs or observations, but from memory, to embed a more intuitive approach to her process. The rhythmic application of layers upon layers of color, form and texture allows the paint and various forms of media to drip and run, evoking the complicated patterns of nature and our relationship to it.
The seven paintings for this exhibition address issues of loss, time and transformation with a subtly optimistic perspective. Stewart has stepped away from her black, ominous, calligraphic lines. Muddy waters, withered flowers and pallid vegetation that call to mind the imperiled landscape have given way to transparent layers and washes of brighter, lighter hues. These brave colors spill across the diptych and triptych panels, reminiscent of the festive, colorful and pre-Katrina New Orleans we like to remember.
"For me, the answers can be found in the process of painting," says Stewart. "It is the search for an inherent order in the apparent chaos of nature, the push and pull of color and shape, and the ambiguity of space that brings me into the studio everyday."
Allison Stewart holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans, Louisiana and her work is included in many public, corporate and private art collections including: New Orleans Museum of Art, Pensacola Museum of Art, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Tulane University and Chase Manhattan bank. Stewart is also a cofounder of KID smART, a Louisiana-based non-profit organization helping under resourced children of inner city New Orleans grow through the arts.