Wooded landscapes interpreted in Deris and Deigaard exhibit

Michael Ossorguine, Staff Reporter

Tulane University’s neighbor, Loyola, is hosting an interesting and visually rewarding exhibition of art this fall in a collaboration between two New Orleans-based artists and long-time acquaintances: Rachel Jones Deris and Lee Deigaard.

Though the artists have distinctly different styles, and had little personal contact in the making of this showcase, the exhibit works with cohesion to give the viewer an intellectually and artistically stimulating experience that covers an array of painting and drawing styles while focusing on a few themes that reappear in almost every picture.

Rachel Jones Deris’ portion, named “Specters,” is a collection of oil on yopu and panel paintings that utilize a wide range of colors and techniques to produce colorful and eye-catching landscapes that focus on lively wooded areas, but rarely have a concrete, worldly subject, hence the name of the collection.

RachelJonesDeris_In Memory II_Oil on Yupo and Panel_21.875x22.875 inches, 2015

Deris’ “In Memory II”

In “Stag,” Jones Deris uses very bold, thick and dark brush strokes to create a fantastical landscape where the colors are only defined enough to give the viewer a sense of where the ground ends and the maroon sky begins. In the center, the thickly applied paint thins out, and a ghostly, yet defined, silhouette of a stag looks out of the painting.

In her exhibit, “Hippocamp and the Delta,” Deigaard approaches the same theme of wooded landscapes from a completely different angle, blending images of trees with metaphorical and artistic allusions to the human brain and river deltas.

“Trees, and the things that can, to make a bad pun, conceptually branch from that have been really important to me,” Deigaard said.


Diegaard’s “Audubon”

When crafting the exhibit, the curator Karoline Schleh drew from years of Deigaard’s work to produce a great collection of drawings made with calligraphy ink, sketches and photogenic drawings.

In her sketch “Wildwood,” done on paper with a tasteful use of Chinese calligraphy ink, the flowing, fanciful looping forms of this fantasy forest is an allusion to the inner workings of neurons and structures of the brain. The shadows that the ink produces create a sense of depth and make the forest seem limitless and mysterious.

“It’s almost like playing a chord, where you’re trying to have things happen on multiple levels where the eye tracks pathways and imagines things,” Deigaard said.

Deigaard was also very influenced by the trees in New Orleans, and some of her sketches had origin material that is right here in the parks and wilderness of NOLA. In her photogenic drawings, she often takes simple pictures of oddly and interesting shaped fragments of trees.

All in all, both exhibits work off of each other to live up to a promise of a highly deep and leveled experience. The exhibit  is on display until the end of October and can be found at the Collins C. Diboll Gallery in Monroe Library at Loyola University.

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