The Austin College Art and Art History Department will host the exhibit “Laura J. Lawson: Elements of Place” now to December 8 in the Dennis Gallery of the Forster Art Complex, 1313 N. Richards Street, Sherman. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For additional information, call the Art and Art History Department at 903.813.2048. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Lawson lived all over Texas growing up and frequent family road trips fueled her love of exploration. While earning a bachelor’s degree from Austin College, her studies took her to Scotland, China, France, Peru, and Ecuador, and she traveled to New Orleans and Chicago after graduation. She earned her MFA from the University of Memphis and spent two months in residency at the Centre d’Art Marnay Art Center (CAMAC) in France. She has since returned to Dallas.
Her residency on the banks of the Seine in Marnay-sur-Seine helped Lawson explore ways of thinking about place. Though nearly 5,000 miles away, the area sometimes reminded her of American towns she knew, including Sherman. Rather than create works about the people and cultures of the places, she was compelled to investigate the physical landscapes, which existed before the places were ever settled. The places are examined in her exhibit through a satellite view, an atmospheric view, and a navigational view.
The satellite-view paintings explore how land and water shape the landscape and form significant relationships for these regions: the Seine is a major artery for France, and the Red River feeds the Mississippi watershed. The atmospheric paintings investigate Lawson’s personal observations of being present in the place. The colors and patterns tie directly to light, water, soil, building materials, wildlife, and other elements that make the area what it is. The navigational view uses regional maps that Lawson has cut into miniature webs of roads. These sculptural drawings highlight years of human effort to make these regions both navigable and livable.
“Ultimately, the physical elements that make up Sherman and Marnay-sur-Seine are the seeds from which their people grew,” Lawson said. “Cultural ways of living can (and should!) cross borders, but the landscape itself can never be truly replicated.”
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.