Through Mama's Eyes: Unique Perspectives in Southern Matriarchy
Edited by Cheylon K. Woods and Kiwana T. McClung
About the Book
Through Mama’s Eyes: Unique Perspectives in Southern Matriarchy looks at the concept of Southern matriarchy and how it has influenced American society. In 2016, the Ernest J. Gaines Center hosted a public program that explored the way women use physical space in literature. That program created many discussions of how the term matriarch is understood and applied, especially in the southern regions of the United States. Southern matriarchy is something that has been idolized and parodied in popular formats, such as movies and film, and the purpose of this book is to explore all of the faceted interpretations of southern matriarchy and its impact on our society. This book contains 17 interdisciplinary essays that each look at the way standard tropes of southern matriarchy are interpreted and challenged through literature, history, and the sciences. Like the program that inspired the book, each essay can be used as an invitation to engage in deeper conversations and research about southern matriarchy and its perceptions as a whole. This book is a compilation of curiosity and intrigue surrounding a societal structure that has influenced so many aspects of so many cultures across America—the Southern Matriarch.
Twenty Years of Marais Press: Imprinting a Campus and Collection
September 10, 2021 — August 20, 2022
Twenty Years of Marais Press is a retrospective of the creative output of visiting artists’s printmaking collaborations within the Marais Press. Located in the Department of the Visual Arts here on the Campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the press has been led by Professor, Brian Kelly since 1999. During that time, Kelly and visiting artists have mentored students as they created hand pulled print editions.
The Hilliard is honoring the amazing work of the Marais Press and the creative community it represents by providing scholarship about the artists who worked with the press, as well as crucial moments in the Marais Press’s history. We are able to do that because the Hilliard has acquired one print from nearly each edition produced over the years. Additionally, Twenty Years of Marais Press is honoring the Press’s apprentice-based learning mode by working with students and alumni on the exhibition to provide a rich learning environment similar to that of the Marais Press.
Above: Labirinto, 2000, 18x16in. Inkjet print on archival rag paper
Wild Trees II
October 2, 2021 — November 2, 2021
Teche Center for the Arts, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
The Teche Center for the Arts in Breaux Bridge is pleased to announce the opening of the group exhibition Wild Trees II on view from October 2nd to November 2nd. A talk by Lynda Frese, artist and curator, will be held on Thursday, October 21st at 6pm. The opening reception for the exhibition will be held on October 2nd from 10am-6pm. The art exhibition includes painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture by seven Louisiana artists: Brandon Ballengée, Jacqueline Bishop, Lynda Frese, Marla Kristicevich, Chris Pavlik, Olivia Perillo, and Russell Whiting.
This art exhibition addresses critical environmental issues, as well as the idea of plant sentience which has inspired artists through the ages: Do trees have a consciousness, are they speaking to us? Wild Trees II explores how a group of Louisiana artists are making work that not only addresses the threat of climate change, but reveals mysteries and messages from the natural world.
About Wild Trees, she says, “The participating artists address topics concerning the environmental crisis, our human relationship with the natural world, and the ongoing question of plant sentience, while using trees as subject matter. These artists inspire me, because their work engages us to think about complex environmental and ethical issues of our Anthropocene era. I wanted to bring this excellent and thoughtful work to my rural community—the artworks celebrate our own ecosystem while asking questions about its survival.”
ACA: The Healthy Artist
October 10, 2020 — January 9, 2021
Following a difficult year for local creatives, the Acadiana Center for the Arts has transformed its Main Gallery into a resource center for artists in the community. Collaborating with organizations like Basin Arts and the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, as well as local businesses, the Center hopes to foster new connections and resources as Acadiana's creative community works to sustain and rebuild its creative community. The exhibition will focus on four main criteria for artist health: Professional Practices/Financial Wellbeing, Mindfulness/Mental & Physical Health, Creativity within an Artistic Practice, and Connection to Community. Workshops and participatory exercises will be featured throughout the exhibition's duration. Stay in the loop at acadianacenterforthearts.org.
Intention follows the stories of eleven women who encompass the profound gradient of cultural heritage in Southwest Louisiana. Contextualizing language, music, food, art, and traditional faith healing, these Cajun, Creole, and Chitimacha preservationists inspire pursuits of passion in practice that give light to an untold cultural narrative.
Directed + Produced by Syd Horn + Olivia Perillo / Director of Photography: Reyna Hope / 1st AC: Bron Moyi / 2nd AC: Alex Moreno + Lucius Fontenot / Location Sound + Mastering by Ben Livingston / Editing by Olivia Perillo + Joseph Howard + Syd Horn / Original Score by Dylan Babineaux
Run time: 01:07:20
This project is the recipient of the 2019 #CREATELouisiana French Culture Documentary Film Grant sponsored by TV5Monde, Cox Communications, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and Deep South Studios. This film has also been supported by Panavision’s New Filmmaker Program and the Al Berard Memorial Music Fund. Intention made its world premiere at The New Orleans French Film Festival at the Prytania Theatre on February 28, 2020 to a sold out audience, and has since streamed online with Southern Screen on November 12, 2020. Follow the film on Instagram for updates on future screenings.
still from Intention
Country Roads Magazine, January 23, 2020
In a project by two Lafayette filmmakers, Acadiana's untold feminine narratives come to light.
Olivia Perillo and Syd Horn’s forthcoming film, Intention, documents the preservation of Louisiana culture and tradition through the stories of twelve women.Within a sprawling cypress grotto, a small blue-and-white figurine stands erect. Protected underneath the trunk’s massive, overarching roots, the statue of the Virgin Mary, her hands outdrawn, illuminates the dark gap between trunk and earth, beckoning stray onlookers in.
The evocative visual style of Intention, the forthcoming documentary film from Lafayette-based filmmakers Syd Horn and Olivia Perillo, can be encapsulated in striking, moody dreamscapes such as this, captured through their joint approach to finding the light amidst darkness. Chronicling the myriad ways the divine feminine manifests in the regional culture of South Louisiana is the driving force of Intention. The fifty-minute feature weaves together the narratives of twelve women across the rural prairies and enigmatic swamplands of Acadiana. The dozen subjects have each dedicated years, or lifetimes, to the pursuit of art, healing, music, cuisine, and craft.
Through this project, Louisiana filmmakers Olivia Perillo (left) and Syd Horn (right) have discovered, explored, and captured the many perspectives of South Louisiana womanhood, and uncovered new ways to understand their own experiences here.
The film’s title asserts its undertaking—to investigate why its subjects are committed to their trade through the lens of cultural preservation. Against the backdrop of a mystic culture imbued with the natural world, Horn and Perillo unravel the confines that determine which stories are traditionally told in South Louisiana, and who gets to tell them.
This type of nuanced storytelling is not new territory for Horn and Perillo, who previously collaborated on a short film entitled Migration for the 2018 KINOMADA short film creation laboratory. Created in ten days and shot on the lush banks of Lake Martin, the film explores the concept of home and its differing interpretations for three women.
“YOU REALLY HAVE TO ASK YOURSELF WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THEIR STORY. IS IT THEIR STRUGGLE? IS IT WHAT THEY DO, OR IS IT A COMBINATION? WHAT EMPOWERS PEOPLE? I THINK THAT’S SOMETHING WE’VE REALLY HAD TO CONSIDER, AND THAT’S PROBABLY THE BIGGEST GIFT THAT WE’VE RECEIVED." —SYD HORN
Intention will premiere at the New Orleans French Film Festival later this month, as part of the CREATE Louisiana French Culture Film Grant the pair was awarded for the project last summer. Nearly a third of Intention is in French, but the film doesn’t examine our state’s francophone heritage from the familiar European French or Cajun French perspective alone. To shed a more historically accurate light on South Louisiana’s cultural and linguistic roots, Horn and Perillo also thread in Louisiana’s vital Black Creole, Haitian, African, Chitimacha, and Canary Islander influences, which are often buried in the mainstream collective memory.
Though the filmmakers remained behind the camera, they each described the way this project’s process of documentation lended itself to an ongoing exchange between directors and subject, leaving both profoundly changed. To ask perhaps the most philosophical of questions—“why?—and present an onscreen response requires a depth of vulnerability, intimacy, and trust built over time, and Horn and Perillo inevitably developed fierce bonds with the women in the film.
“It’s made me really evaluate my own life while going through it and taking their stories in and seeing how I relate to that at the same time,” said Perillo. “Women who, before, wouldn’t share the depth of where they come from and where their art comes from—it breaks down these timelines and illusions we place on ourselves in exchange for what’s important,” added Horn.
The pair, both Louisiana natives, found themselves reflecting on their shared culture and reckoning with the complexities of recognition—which can ensure cultural longevity, but isn’t always relevant to those one aims to recognize. In a pre-production film sample, a Breaux Bridge traiteur articulates the enduring history of women in these intergenerational disciplines and their staying power, despite a lack of formal acknowledgement. “The word traiteur is masculine, because at one time women held no positions of professionalism,” she said. “There’s no female word for ‘lawyer.’There’s no female word for ‘doctor.’ Everybody in the Nouveau French movement who wanted to make everything right is now saying, ‘oh, we have to say traiteurse,’ but no we don’t, because women were always that; it didn’t matter what you called them, you went by that word. We cannot correct grammar and pretend we made anything right.”
“There are very few resources on women when discussing South Louisiana,” said Horn. “If you Google women’s documentaries in South Louisiana, you’ll probably see prison documentaries, crime, poverty; it’s obvious that women are misrepresented, but something that I think has been really powerful has been to show that under the umbrella of French culture film, it doesn’t really matter.” Women have always, and will always, do meaningful work, she said, whether there is recognition or not—”because that’s what they have to do.” And the value of their work is neither increased nor diminished because of it.
Due to the close-knit nature of Acadiana’s creative community, several of the film’s women already knew one another or had encountered each other’s work. “This project literally could not happen in any other place, because you can’t build this web of people who have met or are meeting each other, without us having to introduce them, anywhere else,” Horn said.
With multiple subjects and just under an hour of runtime, Horn and Perillo were tasked with delivering the crux of each woman’s story to an audience, a responsibility they did not take lightly. “You really have to ask yourself what’s the most important part of their story. Is it their struggle? Is it what they do, or is it a combination? What empowers people? I think that’s something we’ve really had to consider, and that’s probably the biggest gift that we’ve received,” said Horn.
A fragment from the film’s fundraising campaign encapsulates the two auteurs’ painstaking, carefully wrought approach: “We are dedicated to this initiative, in hopes to arrive at hard truths with gentleness.” The documentary’s log line—“Hidden in Cajun Country live angels among us”—similarly echoes a sense of reverence for the sensitive process of making visible what is hidden.
“We wanted to channel those feelings into something that gives perspective to a community, especially the voiceless unseen community,” said Horn. Added Perillo, “Documenting these women in a very honest, yet beautiful way—it’s easy to capture.”
It all feels like the revelation of something powerful and precious, a secret that’s been there the whole time, coming, at long last, into light.
Hambidge Center for the Arts & Sciences, Rabin's Gap, Georgia
Artist-in-residence October - November 2020
RECENT PHOTOGRAPHY ACQUISITIONS
March 14, 2020 -- March 7, 2021
Revelations: Recent Photography Acquisitions features a selection of photographs made from the early 20th century to the present and added to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s permanent collection over the last decade.With over 70 photographs featured, Revelations represents a wide range of processes and techniques made by a diverse group of 39 photographers.
Revelations celebrates regional identity in parallel with the South’s ongoing contributions to a global conversation on photography in the visual arts. Photographers included in the exhibition: Keith Calhoun, William Christenberry, Lee Deigaard, Walker Evans, Debbie Fleming Caffrey, Aaron Hardin, Lewis W. Hine, Birney Imes, Dorothea Lange, Sally Mann, Andrew Moore, Chandra McCormick, RaMell Ross, Ernest Withers and more.
This exhibition is curated by Richard McCabe, Ogden Museum Curator of Photography.
Keepsake, 2015, from the Art & Shadows series by Lynda Frese
included in the exhibition Revelations: Recent Photography Acquisitions
Louisiana Life, Sept/Oct 2018
Breaux Bridge photographer Lynda Frese explores spiritual places in Louisiana and all over the world.
BY JOHN R. KEMP
According to the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, “nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”
Over the years, Breaux Bridge’s transcendental photographer Lynda Frese has traveled the world, studying religions, mythologies, early goddess cults and the classical world of medieval Europe. She has visited prehistoric cave paintings, photographed megalithic sites in France and the sacred valley of Peru, and explored the natural and spiritual landscape of Louisiana in search of Emerson’s “colors of the spirit.”
In a sense, these journeys and resulting photographs are portraits of self-discovery and self-reflection. Through her art, we accompany her on these journeys. Regardless of where she goes in that search, Louisiana-themed images continue to float in and out of her work.
“The ancient sites of human culture have been a subject in my photography for decades,” says Frese. “But I also photograph the wilderness of my own backyard of Louisiana. These are the places, stretching back into prehistoric times that represent our cultural and natural heritage. The images from these places have been a kind of bedrock for my work.”
Lynda Frese, Cosmic Lake Martin, 2009
Lynda Frese: Holy Memories & Earthly Delights
Hilliard University Art Museum
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Exhibition Dates: February 17 – May 19, 2018
Artist Talk: Wed, March 7, 6:00-8:00 PM
The Hilliard University Art Museum is pleased to announce Lynda Frese: Holy Memories & Earthly Delights. Featuring over 60 photographs and paintings by UL Lafayette Professor Emerita Lynda Frese, the exhibition draws its title from an essay by Alejandro Malo which appears in a forthcoming monograph on her work. March 7 the museum and UL Press will host a book signing event and gallery tour led by the artist. On Wednesday, March 7, as part of the museum’s Creative Conversation series, Frese will lead a gallery tour of her exhibit, followed by a book signing event, co-hosted by UL Press and the museum.
Curatorial Statement by Laura Blereau:
This exhibition highlights Frese’s early silver-gelatin photograms and experiments made in California thirty years ago – while also tracing a steady trajectory of her continued interest in the human form. About half of the pieces on view were created before her move to Louisiana in 1986, when she joined the faculty of UL Lafayette’s College of the Arts.
There is a loose energy of drawing in much of the work. As a photographer Frese draws with light, but as a painter she also reveals a deep sensitivity to color and material that is specific to place. Some of the compositions radiate an earthy glow. She is a keen observer of the natural world and its energies, yet her figures operate in a symbolically rich plane of the imagination.
Lynda Frese: Holy Memories & Earthly Delights includes works from 1978 to 2018, and is divided into eight categories that explore recurring visual themes. For example, nine pieces examine her longstanding interest in vessels and pottery, while another sixteen works are rooted in Jungian notions of the subconscious. The show features early formal experiments created in the darkroom, as well as collages and later mixed-media artworks that incorporate egg tempera and organic elements such as plants and insect parts. The photographs on display range in technique from digital composites to silver-gelatin processes that incorporate a variety of toners affecting color including copper, selenium and vanadium.
In her words: I believe in the mystery of Gaia: that the components of Earth are functioning as a single living system or organism. Frese’s pictures are essentially landscapes, and the human lives represented in them are part of a larger system of nature. She is an avid traveler and seeks out UNESCO world heritage sites. Her work is a witness to countless mythologies, and also tells a story of personal discovery. It seeks spaces of emotional and spiritual power while featuring a myriad of figures – from family members to pop-stars, insects, and icons from antiquity.
Frese uses montage and collage to create pictures that contain surreal, imagined places. Layers of imagery serve as windows. Choices of scale suggest the figure’s relationship to his or her environment. In these spaces, the forces of gravity, light and optical clarity are optional and, at times, are manipulated for emotional or psychological impact.
Lynda Frese was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1956. Her art has been exhibited internationally and is part of many public and private collections, including the SF MOMA, San Francisco; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Ogden Museum of Art, New Orleans; Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, Davis; Hilliard University Art Museum at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento; Palazzo Farnese, Ortona, Italy; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; and the Center for Photography, Woodstock.
Between 1976 and 1986, Frese lived in the Sacramento Valley of California. She trained in printmaking at UC Davis and earned a BFA in 1978. Afterward, she began exploring darkroom techniques and earned an MFA in photography. Among the artists mentoring her during this period were painter Wayne Thiebaud and ceramicist Bob Arneson, a leader of the Funk Art movement. In 1985, Frese attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. A frequent visitor to Italy, her past residencies also include the American Academy in Rome; ArteStudio Ginestrelle, Assisi; The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, and the Liguria Center for the Arts and Humanities at the Bogliasco Foundation.
In 2016, Frese was also recognized by the Louisiana Cultural Awards as Artist of the Year for her sustained work celebrating the culture and history of the Southern United States. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a 2014 residency at Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia LA. She is currently based in Breaux Bridge, LA.
In conjunction with the opening of the exhibit UL Press will publish a new monograph on Frese’s work. The publication will include essays by Dr. Mary Ann Wilson, Distinguished Professor of English and Women’s Studies at UL Lafayette, and Mexico City-based photography critic Alejandro Malo.
Upon request, press and media kits are available that include high-resolution images and selected literature on the artist.
Museum Hours, Admission & General Information
The Hilliard University Art Museum is located at 710 East Saint Mary Boulevard, on the campus of University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Museum Hoursare: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm; Wednesday, 9:00 am to 8:00 pm; Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; closed Sunday and Monday. General Admission: $5 Adults, $4 Seniors (62+), $3 Students (5-17). FREE for Members, UL Students/Staff/Faculty with identification, and visitors under 5. Guided tours of the galleries are available Friday & Saturday at 2 PM, complimentary with admission. For general information, please visit hillliardmuseum.org or call (337) 482-2278.
About the Hilliard Museum
The Hilliard University Art Museum operates on the campus of University of Louisiana at Lafayette and was originally founded in 1964 as the Art Center for Southwest Louisiana. Featuring a state-of-the-art modern facility that was erected in 2004, the museum houses more than 2,200 objects in its permanent collection, and is the largest art exhibition space between New Orleans and Houston. The Hilliard serves a wide range of educational and cultural needs by fostering cross-disciplinary intellectual discourse on campus and throughout the region. At the core of the Hilliard's mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit the art of our time while celebrating the great diversity of Louisiana's heritage.
The Advocate, February 27, 2018
Lynda Frese: Artist and feminist still going strong
BY PATRICIA GANNON
Lynda Frese's Arugula Icon, in which the plant, circled with haloes, takes precedent over the human presence.
In Subterranean Reds, artist Lynda Frese used pigments from some of the same quarries used by cave artists in prehistoric times.
Lynda Frese identifies as a quiet environmental artist; it's a subtext of her work.
LAFAYETTE — Lynda Frese’s philosophy and photography haven’t always been appreciated in foreign places. Or at home either, for that matter.
But thanks to her persistence, a show spanning 40 years of her work will open in mid-February at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum. It's also because of her stubborn streak that the female art instructors at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette get paid the same as men.
“No one wanted to stand with me then,” she recalled. “But they thank me now.”
Retired after a 30-year career as the university’s first art professor emerita, the exhibit is a retrospective entitled "Lynda Frese: Holy Memories & Earthly Delights." It showcases her early work to the present as curated by Laura Blereau. Divided into eight sections, the work is not displayed chronologically, but mixed thematically. For example, “Dream World & The Subconscious” has a lot of interesting bodies. "Vessels," which have always been symbols for the female, contains work from three different decades.
“We don’t want to impose preconceptions on the show,” said Frese, casually sipping coffee in the museum atrium. “Laura looked at all the work in my studio while I went to Italy. She spent days in there.”
Over a third of the exhibition is early works from California, but Blereau saw significance in Frese’s younger phase, when many of her pieces were made with multiple negatives in the darkroom on gelatin silver paper. “She thought it was the key to the work that came after,” Blereau said. Images of religious relics and veneration remain, and their shadowy figures and deserted cathedrals persist in later collages. A lexicon of images from the past, mysterious and deep, recur in present work.
February 22, 2018
LAFAYETTE (BHP) – The exhibit, Lynda Frese: Holy Memories & Earthly Delights, is on view at the Hilliard University Art Museum through May 19, 2018.
Bayou Hack Press (www.bayouhackpress.com) caught up with Frese via email and the result follows in the following Question & Answer format.
After reading the Q&A, check out lead story here.
BHP: What is it like having your work, a part of yourself – past and present – displayed in one room?
LF: Well, the exhibition is in eight sections and it is not organized by the years of production, which allows visitors to focus on ongoing themes, rather than tedious dates. For many artists– and I think this is true for all kinds of artists, including musicians– we are always making work that is a part of ourselves, parts that are vulnerable and naked. So that is something that happens in any art show to a certain extent.
One of the most valuable outcomes for me was working with a curator and two writers who have identified and articulated recurring themes in years of work, some of which I had not even noticed! For example, there is a large collection of work that metaphorically uses vessels or containers. Other ongoing themes are mythology, as well as how humans exist in the natural world. So these discoveries, which connect the dots, will have a strong impact on my future studio work.
BHP: In many ways, depending on the photog/subject/“job”, straight up photography is art in and of itself. What made you move from simply taking photographs (if you ever did, come to think of it), to what we see in your work?
LF: Harvey Himelfarb, my photography professor from UC Davis, would say that there is a distinction between “taking” photographs and “making” photographs. Making photographs is a more conscious act, and it encompasses all kinds of photography, straight and manipulated. And really, what photograph is not manipulated in some way? My early training was in printmaking, so I was always interested in this idea of the negative, and playing around with different materials. But combining different photographs together started early for me, even though there are a few “straight” photographs in the show. Visual art is kind of like language, and I am always making up my own vocabulary and syntax.
BHP: If not for photography itself, would you still create the work you do, say, via painting, drawing, sculpting – or any other art form?
LF: Ha, we couldn’t include my drawings and prints and paintings! And, I do like to sing.
BHP: What does the accompanying book add to the exhibit of the same name, “Lynda Frese: Holy Memories & Earthly Delights”?
LF: The book is not a copy of the show, but it does include most of the work, and also a section on Louisiana history and preservation, which has been an important subject in my art, but which we did not end up being able fit into the exhibit.
The catalogue also includes some beautiful writing about the art––you know I think it is very important for artists and writers to work together. Dr. Mary Ann Wilson, a UL distinguished professor, has written a wonderful essay about the matrifocal and feminist aspects of my work, including Art & Shadows, a series made at Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia, about antebellum Louisiana.
Alejandro Malo is the Mexico City-based photography critic who has written exquisitely about the ethics of how artists can speak about nature and environmental issues. We used the excellent title of his text for the exhibition. And finally there is an interview between myself and curator Laura Blereau, who selected the work and designed the show. These interpretive writings are a kind of map for thinking about the art.
BHP: Was there an emotional toll going through work for this exhibit? If so, how and why? If not, how and why?
LF: The project was years in the making and it was an emotional journey for sure. “Toll” is an interesting word, does that mean I’m on the freeway now? The exhibit includes many gelatin-silver prints from my darkroom days in Davis, California, where I lived for ten years; and it was kind of wild to go over that territory again, to think about the family members and friends who were my models. We sure got naked a lot!
Putting together an exhibition and publication of this magnitude has so many pieces to it, and involves so many collaborations. I really tried to lean into the expertise of others. There is so much to be learned from looking through the lens of someone else’s eyes, to use a photography metaphor.
BHP: Where do you go from here?
LF: I think what I’d like to say here is that my concern for the environment has grown, obviously. These are dire times. If there is any impact my voice as an artist can have, I am grateful for that.
Boudin and Bourbon, February 20, 2018
Notes on Lynda Frese’s Batwoman at Hilliard Museum
BY VIRGINIA BILLEAUD ANDERSON
Only good bourbon in a bar after could have made my visit to Lynda Frese’s studio more fun, but perhaps it was too early in the day for two old broads to be “drankin” at La Poussiere or T-Boy’s Lounge. Nevertheless, it was a fine moment, which often happens when the discussion includes Romanesque architecture and ancient archaeological sites. Dominating our conversation was Frese’ La Femme Chauve-Souris (Batwoman), a collage painting with found images, photographs, and egg tempura paint on panel. Particularly inviting was its postcard depiction of a wood carving housed in the Church of Saint Bertrand de Comminges’ Renaissance-era choir stalls of a pocked-skin, winged “Bat” woman with a creature emerging from her crotch. Deep in my gut I understood the decorative carving’s meaning veered beyond soothing orthodoxies to something more fundamental. An object with that degree of resonance pulls back the mind’s heavy drapes.
Acadiana Profile Magazine, February 2018
Former UL professor takes a 40-year look in the rearview mirror, while also looking ahead
BY WILL KALEC
PAINTINGS SPANNING THE COURSE OF LYNDA FRESE’S FOUR-DECADE CAREER AS AN ARTIST WILL BE EXHIBITED IN THE PAUL AND LULU HILLIARD MUSEUM, ON THE CAMPUS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA AT LAFAYETTE, FROM FEBRUARY 17 - MAY 19, 2018. THE EXHIBIT IS CALLED, HOLY MEMORIES & EARTHLY DELIGHTS.
After decades of splitting time between passion and a profession, Lynda Frese’s artistic process flows without interruption. That means more hours are spent in the studio. More hours are spent traveling. More hours are spent reading. There’s time to ponder, time to reflect, time to pause. Inspiration no longer has to fit between semesters and syllabi.
An accomplished and beloved art professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for 30 years, Frese retired after the 2016 academic year, and in doing so, rediscovered the artist she once was and the artist she always wanted to be.
“Sometimes, I feel like I’m living the dream that I had when I was 10 years old when I thought, ‘Oh, I’d really love to be an artist,” she says. “What’s it gonna be like to have an artist’s life?’ So in a way, this is coming back to the original dream….I’ve enjoyed exploring the notion of having a different identity. Because when you’re a teacher, so much of who you are is being a teacher. So you have to deconstruct that, and build a different idea of who you are.
“I feel very grateful for the opportunity to teach at the university, but now this is a new chapter that’s happening before I get too ancient. It’s been nice to turn the page.”
But, as Frese admits, it’s also been a joy and an honor to thumb back a few pages, as well — a privilege afforded to her while putting together the particulars of her upcoming exhibit, “Lynda Frese: Holy Memories & Earthly Delights” at the UL Hilliard Museum.
Art & Shadows Exhibit Now Open at the Shadows-on-the-Teche Visitor's Center
An exhibition of Lynda Frese's Art & Shadows series is now at the Shadows-on-the-Teche Visitor's Center. The exhibition runs through October 3, 2015. For directions and admission information, please visit their website.
Louisiana Life, May 1, 2015
"Art and Shadows" on the Bayou Teche
Lynda Frese’s haunting photo collages of the Shadows-on-the-Teche Plantation in New Iberia call to mind William Faulkner’s memorable line in his 1950 book, Requiem for a Nun – “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
BY JOHN R. KEMP
Over the last 12 months, Frese has created an impressive body of images that draw upon the history and people who inhabited the plantation for almost two centuries. Faces of long dead members of the Weeks family who owned the Shadows, their clothing, household objects, personal letters, and the belongings of slaves who worked the land move in and out of her collages like specters in a dream. Each hand-tinted collage is an impression of time, place, and the tragic and complex relationships between the people who once lived and worked in this elegant historical home on Bayou Teche. They are silent stories left to the imagination of viewers. Continue reading
Art and Shadows artists-in-residence Lynda Frese and David Greely at Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia, LA.
Arts Program Celebrates History and Culture of Storied Louisiana Site
Visual artist, musician to create new works inspired by Shadows-on-the-Teche
New Iberia, La. (June 26, 2014) – Visual artist and University of Louisiana at Lafayette 2013 Distinguished Professor Lynda Frese and traditional French Louisiana musician David Greely, founding fiddler of the Mamou Playboys, have been selected as artists in residence for the Art and Shadows program. The 12- month Art and Shadows program provides unique studio and performance space for one visual artist and one musician at the Shadows-on-the-Teche, a National Historic Landmark and historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in New Iberia, La.
While the National Trust has artist residencies at other locations in its portfolio of 27 historic sites, the Art and Shadows program represents a new prototype that brings visual artist and a performing artist into dialogue with one another during the residency. Art and Shadows, supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), demonstrates how innovative arts programming at historic sites can enhance their role as community assets and increase cultural and economic impacts in their neighborhoods and regions.
“During its storied history, the Shadows-on-the-Teche has influenced artists and innovators, such as Walt Disney and author Henry Miller, who visited the site” said Pat Kahle, director of Shadows-on-the-Teche. “I’m delighted that the site will continue to inspire new creative works through the Art and Shadows program and look forward to the results of having two artists here together.”
Lynda Frese and David Greely will create new works onsite that are inspired by both the location and the region’s history. They will leverage the site’s unique buildings, landscapes, and collections that document life in southern Louisiana in the 19th and 20th centuries. The artists Frese and Greely will also have access to non-traditional spaces at the Shadows-on-the-Teche, including a balcony tucked under the deep eaves of the Shadows and overlooking the Bayou Teche; an attic filled with books, artwork, clothing, and furnishings accumulated by the Weeks family over almost 200 years; and the intimate painting studio of Weeks Hall, where he entertained renowned actors, writers, and musicians in the early 20th century.
Working on-site at the Shadows-on-the-Teche, Frese and Greely will engage the community in participatory experiences around the new works. Public programming will include workshops, lectures, master classes and concerts,
culminating in a spring 2015 festival focusing on new works of visual art and the performance from the new musical works created during the residencies.
Suggested Tweet: New @PresNation Art & Shadows program to celebrate storied Louisiana historic site through @NEAarts grant http://bit.ly/1i5sqEV
The Shadows-on-the-Teche is a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A white-columned brick building constructed between 1831 and 1834, The Shadows is both a survivor and a reminder of the many layers of history associated with the site, each succeeding generation building on the one before to become an integral part of the property’s history.
For more information about The Shadows-on-the-Teche, visit http://shadowsontheteche.org.
About the National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. www.PreservationNation.org
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Virginia Billeaud Anderson
Lynda Frese wrote recently to announce her photo collage paintings are in this year’s International Contemporary Art Exhibition at Gallery Le Logge in Assisi’s Piazza del Comune, which means the art is ennobled by the first century B.C. Temple of Minerva which is also in that piazza and which has one of the most splendid facades in antiquity. Minerva’s Corinthian capitals are so lovely they seem to challenge the misguided decision to turn the goddesses’ house into a church.
Lynda Frese, Introitus, 2010
egg tempera, photographs, metal leaf, 10” x 24” (earth realm series)
Frese didn’t have to travel to India, Crete, Peru and all those other places to realize unity of life artistic inspiration. There is plenty of that where she lives in south Louisiana. The Rhode Island native moved there in 1986 to be a professor of Art at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. South Louisiana is grounded in Virgin Mary mythology extensively represented in statuary form. Virgin iconography is so prevalent it suggests the human imagination must have its gods in order to conceptualize existence and mortality, for as the Council of Ephesus determined, there could be no erosion of Artemis’s temple and cult without substituting Mary as deity. In south Louisiana the earth-spirit bountiful aspect of the goddess’ totality is palpable - shrimp boat captains, rice farmers, and sugar cane harvesters pray rosaries and light candles to ensure success and profit. Mary’s corresponding role is to intercede in personal matters - “Virgin Mary, help us win the game on Friday night,” “Mary, make Daddy not drink so much,” “Mother Mary, get those children to act right!” So if you want to see how deeply the human psyche longs for ordering through mythological and iconographic intimations of wholeness, unity and abundance, drive through the towns of Breaux Bridge, Delcambre, Arnaudville, or along the canal at Dulac, or down the highway to Grand Isle and witness the unbelievably high quantity of goddess statues, all there to mirror human fears and desires. None of this escapes Frese of course who artistically imagines sacred deities, the god Shiva for instance, in inconceivable places like Holly Beach, Louisiana.
Lynda Frese, Le Grande Salle, 2013, 16” x 12”
Photographs, egg tempera on panel
Frese is not new to Italy; she has had residencies and exhibitions including some at the American Academy in Rome, but the fact that many of her art images were photographed in Italy makes it a fitting exhibition venue. Further, she employs the technique of painting over collage elements with Northern Italian antique pigments used to repair church frescoes. When I first encountered her art in 2011 at Redbud Gallery in Houston I was so moved by the blue-toned egg tempura pigment she managed to snatch from Italian restoration artists, I described it as “that celestial blue Giotto stole from Cimabue.”
Last year Frese published Pacha Mama: earth realm, a collection of artworks with haunting combinations of myth-based and landscape images that proximate life as organic, pulsating and unified. By straddling human consciousness across demons, saints, Paleolithic cave paintings, the Peruvian goddess Pachamama, grottoes, streams, Neolithic Venus statuary and stone circles, they articulate sacred connectedness freighted with birth-decay-death cyclicality. In one painting a Hindu deity accompanies Romanesque carvings of the Virgin near a mountain pool, in another medieval religious frescoes float above a rainforest. Complimenting earth realm’s images are essays, poetry and Sanskrit verse, and the book includes a refreshing “Acknowledgements” in which Frese expressed equal gratitude to local saloons as to her collaborators and university colleagues.
Lynda Frese, House of Worship, 2010, egg tempera paint, photographs, metal leaf on birchwood,
7.5” x 10” (earth realm series)
That area around Assisi is a pretty good place to realize the particular aspect of life’s unity based on fecundity and regeneration. You can’t go two feet without encountering depictions of that feminine principle in the form of the Virgin Mother whose god-birthing Queen of Heaven mythological history and iconography form a continuum with ancient goddesses of earth and abundance. A place to find the Virgin’s image by Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti is in the Basilica of Saint Francis where Francis is buried (d. 1226) and where pilgrims go to view his various relics such as raggedy clothes. It was Francis who began the business of saints getting the stigmata (hysteria?) which guarantees sainthood.
It’s often said that Italians invented their own hierarchy for divinity which ranks the Virgin Mary (Madonna) above Jesus. You don’t doubt this in and around Assisi, Perugia, and other Umbrian hill towns where people use the phrase “Madonna” for exclamatory emphasis, the way Sicilians say “Mamma Mia.” “Madonna” is a standard reply and means “oh” and “really” and “how awful” and “wonderful” similarly to our interchanging “really” with “Jesus Christ” or “no shit.” I once traveled to the thoroughly medieval town of Spello to see Roman antiquities and paintings by Pinturicchio at Sant’Andrea (begun 1025) and at Santa Maria Maggiore (1159), this second church dedicated to the Virgin and constructed over a temple dedicated to Juno and Vesta, and while there encountered inebriated guys pulling large wine barrels on a wooden cart, Dionysian style. Outside Spello’s ancient walls is the small church of the Madonna of Spello where supplicants talk to the Madonna images in the frescoes and leave written invocations such as a 1586 reminder to do something about the famine.