Article Country Roads Magazine Nov. 2017
Follow this link to read the "Louisiana Life" magazine article on myself and my husband Michael Elliott-Smith from Jan./Feb. 2017 issue.
I work in both painting and photography and try to capture those images that are personally compelling and hopefully just as evocative for the viewer. Coming to photography from a painting and printmaking background allows me to look at each photographic image as a piece of the final composition, not as the whole work of art. The visual information provided in each work is a journey toward a narrative. My creative process is the same whether I am painting or creating a multilayered photograph. Now in saying that, I am aware some may think I do not take images as a whole composition. I actually do take each photograph as if it was a piece on its own, but have a hard time leaving it that way since for many years I created from a blank canvas.
I really want to present the viewer with a story. Composed of multiple images, the multi-layered final composition creates an ambiguous fantasy that is both narrative and symbolic. Frequently I reference human emotions along with the passage of time, regeneration, and the leftover objects and structures from society. Time is an integral element; from that 'moment in time', to the slow passage of time. Time is reflected in the natural elements and the changing views of some images. Water is also an image that you will find frequently. Symbolic of change and renewal, water has always served a purpose as an iconic cleansing element and also a highway of change. Being that I grew up in an area under sea level and water was only held back by levees, it is only fitting that I refer back to water often.
What interests me is the dichotomy of man’s hand within our natural world? How have humans changed the environment that surrounds us? How do we view ourselves through the objects of the past?
There are some artists who have inspired my work whether consciously or unconsciously. Most of these are painters because that is how my creative brain works. A key element in all of these artists' works is imagery and a narrative; Giotto, Hieronymus Bosch, Renee Magritte, Leonora Carrington, Giorgio de Chirico, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, George Tooker, Robert Shwartz, and Maggie Taylor to name a few. Since I taught art history for most of my career, I really appreciate all visual art.
WHAT IS AN EDITION?
All of my photographs are printed as part of an edition. An edition is a piece of art with a set number of prints created from each photograph; typically, 25 total prints. Each photograph contains a fractional number written in the outer lower border. For example, the number 1/25 means this was the first print of 25 total prints of that image. Each work is hand signed and titled. Every number in an edition is as valuable as the others, since I make sure all works in the edition are exactly the same. A proof is a different version of the image, called a "state", created prior to the final image. I do not typically sell any of my 'proof' images. Proof images are one of a kind, but are typically not what I wanted as the final image.
I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but at 2 years old the family moved to New Orleans, first living on Canal Street and then moving to the new suburb of River Ridge. At that time, River Ridge (not yet incorporated) was still fairly rural and had some wooded areas in which to have many adventures. The Mississippi river was at the end of the street with miles of levee. Days were spent outdoors investigating, building forts, playing sandlot baseball, and being dragged behind a bicycle with those skates that attached to your shoes. There were very few boundaries on what a child could do in the 60's. My Dad would go outside and loudly whistle when it was time for dinner.
My family took long car vacations each summer crisscrossing the United States. As we drove in the car, I was always fascinated when we would come upon an abandoned home isolated in what seemed to be the middle of no-where. When I first saw Edward Hopper's painting "House on the Railroad", it seemed so familiar. I had seen similar buildings on those long car vacations. It sparked a sense of restoration in my soul. Which for an artist means nothing is ever considered trash, it can always be re-purposed. Most artists are collectors and I am no exception. My studio is full of bits of things found unexpectedly.
I always wanted to be an artist from a very young age, driving my mother crazy making messes on the table as I created things with what was available. No one in the family was into the arts in any way. At age 12, my parents gave me a set of oil paints, and offered art lessons, of which I attended one and realized that I did not want to just copy other people’s work. So instead, I opted to draw and paint from real life and from the National Geographic magazine, since it had more exotic locations and images of people. I attended Riverdale High school which was an all-girls public school at the time. There were five art instructors at the school. Although only one of them was an artist of any merit, it did provide an opportunity to take classes.
In 1973, I moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU, starting in painting at first and then switching to art education to ensure a job. I receiving my B.S. in art education in 1977 and a Masters of Fine Arts in printmaking with a minor in painting in 1979. I subsequently taught as an Assistant Professor at UNO and LSU and in 1983 moved to Alexandria to work as the education curator at the Alexandria Museum of Art. From mid-1986 to July 1990, I worked as an art consultant to arts councils and as an artist-in-residence in several parishes across Louisiana.
In 1990, I started a new adventure, teaching fine art survey online in a new distance education program called Telelearning designed by Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. This program eventually morphed into Louisiana Virtual School which was run by the Department of Education and LSMSA. From 2013 -2015, I was the director of online learning for the LSMSA Virtual School. I retired in July of 2015. During my years of teaching online, I also held adjunct teaching positions at LC, LSUA, NSU, and ULM.
In 1995, I received the Louisiana State Visual Artists Fellowship for painting. I have been in well over 200 exhibitions nationally and created public murals for the Baton Rouge Zoo, City of Alexandria (city hall and the old water building), LSU, LSUA, Calvary Baptist Church, Town Talk Newspaper Building (destroyed 2016), and Shreveport Arts council (destroyed 2005). My works are in the public art collections of LSU Medical Center New Orleans, Marriott Hotel New Orleans, LSU, LSUA, Louisiana College, the City of New Orleans, Alexandria Museum of Art, Masur Museum of Art, Beaumont Art League, Nicolette College, University of Southern Mississippi, New Orleans Southern Baptist Hospital (now Ochsner Baptist Hospital), and the Alexandria Calvary Baptist Church.
I am affiliated with the LeMieux Galleries, 332 Julia Street, New Orleans and Baton Rouge Gallery, 1515 Dalrymple Dr., Baton Rouge. I sell my artwork through this website and through LeMieux Galleries in New Orleans.