In our Spring ’10 edition, On The Issues Magazine contributors look at ways to enhance and augment our understanding of feminist and progressive values.
On The Issues Magazine provides an Online forum for artists to exhibit their art, including moving images and audio, as well as stills. This art section presents exciting responses to major themes of our day.
In this edition of On the Issues Magazine, The Art Perspective by Linda Stein presents a mini-retrospective of the art of Michelle Stuart. Click on play to hear the audio text and see a slide presentation. A further discussion of Stuart’s work is below. I welcome feedback from online viewers with emails to [email protected]
Michelle Stuart seeks to educate with her art. She is in search of a visual language to express nature’s more elusive aspects, along with the fragility of existence. “I hope to illuminate the experience of being human,” Stuart says, “and thus show we are part of nature. I hope to broaden people’s peripheries about the environment and open imaginations to its mysteries.”
Over her 50-year career, Stuart has drawn upon aspects from the natural world — cycles, forms, colors — while studying myriad cultures and histories. She works mainly in series that are about earth, celestial forms, seed and plant systems, and specific sites, educating her viewers about how our forebears saw themselves on earth. “Recently, in my paintings, I have focused on the metamorphosis of Lepidoptera and the iridescence in the silvery scales of their wings. I have used a variety of materials over the years, favoring beeswax, but including marble, bronze, and light. The main body of my work has been sculpture and painting with pigmented encaustic wax. When my painting is about the experience of a place I add natural materials from that site, as well as my own photographs as reference or as part of the work itself.”
An early turning point for Stuart was receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1975, which, along with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1975, 1977, 1980, 1989), enabled her to focus and dedicate herself to her work.
Another turning point came in 1984 when Stuart was chosen by the Museum of Modern Art in New York for “Primitivism in 20th Century Art.” MoMA later acquired her piece from the exhibit.
Exhibiting widely in addition to MOMA, Michelle Stuart’s work is in the National Collection of Art (Canberra, Australia), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), the Whitney Museum of American Art(New York), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago). Her prints are currently at Diane Villani Editions. Her work was last shown at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects and can be seen on Michelle Stuart’s web site.