When artists travel to distant places, either
literally or metaphorically, the resulting expressions can be surprising—who
else envisions a zebra striped in shades of lavender, lime and saffron? Two
artists, Marion Coffey and Laurel Lueders, journey to distinctly different
continents and allow their ingenuity and thoughtful impressions to explore new
Coffey, a well-loved Milwaukee
artist who recently returned from Africa, will exhibit her fresh interpretations
of the trip beginning June 6 at the Tory
Folliard Gallery with “Kenya
and Tanzania Safari.” Coffey translates tribal and animal subjects into her
characteristically bold-hued paintings. Strokes of thickly applied acrylics on
heavily textured elephant paper (a handmade pulp paper) breathe life into the
stylized representations, which almost appear to move on the paper. Her
figures, distilled into line, shape and color, dominate the space, but also
translate the location’s emotional life for the viewer.
Coffey explores rich yet simplified versions of her
experiences, recalling Gauguin’s more complex visions of Tahiti.
Burchell’s Zebra (2008) portrays a
solitary animal that needs no grassland to look perfectly grounded on the
paper. Similarly, in The Color of Maasai
(2008), the brilliant blanket patterns covering the shoulders of her
subjects. Painted in her home studio using multiple sketches drawn on the trip,
these African-themed images are heightened by Coffey’s exuberant perceptions.
Several of Coffey’s works appear in the National
Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington,
D.C., and at the White House. A
Friday, June 6, reception from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Folliard Gallery provides an
opportunity to meet this prolific artist and enjoy her colorful safari.
Laurel Lueders presents 20 large-scale photographs
that reference archaeology and historical artifacts at the PlochArtGallery in the SharonLynneWilsonCenter
for the Arts. Her new exhibition, “Nether Realm,”opens June 5, with an artist’s reception on June 12 from 5:30 to
Wisconsin-born Lueders moved to Germany
in 1999 and now lives mostly in Europe, where
she photographs archaeological sites. She uses these images and others taken in
her studio to create digitally enhanced pictures overlaid with her handmade
fabrics and other artworks. This innovative technique constructs illusionary
environments that uncover places where humanity appears to have been layered
just like her prints, civilization over civilization. These imaginary terrains
resemble fractured societies that prompt the viewer to ponder where
civilization will travel in future generations.