Born 1976, New Orleans
Lives and Works in Joshua Tree, California
California based artist Anne-Louise Ewen’s inventive body of work includes paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, and books.
Ewen grew up in a small town on the Mississippi River in a region of South Louisiana equally known equally for its antebellum architecture and for its toxic refineries. She moved to Los Angeles in 2005 from New Orleans following the massive upheaval of Hurricane Katrina.
Long before that, in the summer between second and third grade, Ewen met one of her first art mentors in a chance encounter and spent that summer learning the fundamentals of drawing with charcoal, a formative experience which established visual art as a core element of her life.
As a teen, she attended the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts (a magnet boarding school) concentrating on a curriculum of fine art, and then spent two years studying figure drawing, printmaking and painting in Paris, France. In her college years, she pursued a degree in philosophy and founded The Donaldsonville Art Colony, a collective of painters, writers, musicians, and filmmakers, an experience she drew from years later when she launched an independent art gallery in Costa Mesa, CA in 2007.
In 2020, She left Los Angeles for Joshua Tree, California, a small arts community in the Mojave Desert.
In this time of deep unrest in the United States, she strives more than ever to create honest, personal expressions of freedom and beauty.
THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT*
TO ME IN PAINTING
Aim to proceed with a devil-may-care work ethic.
Cheerful and reckless. Painting is an active investigation. Invent processes and re-discover painting for myself all the time. Figure it out as I go in a leap of faith, expecting to arrive at something I find personally and intimately beautiful.
Let first-hand personal experience
of aesthetic arrest be the true north that guides me.
Make something to look at and know experientially
-- not as a concept to be grasped. Let there be room for epiphany.
Don’t give in to pressure to validate through explanation.
Aim for nothing less than to create things that transcend
oppression, violence, hate, ignorance, and existential ennui.
Do it in my own way.
If it works on me, it might work on other people.
Art’s highest good is as an outpost and a trigger of freedom and happiness.
I’m interested in art that makes me feel in love with the world.
Artists have the ability and responsibility to restore humanity to humanity through what we do. Some have said that looking at my work makes them feel more free and I’d like to keep making that happen.
For me it is more about the music than the lyrics.
In other words, though there are recognizable objects in my paintings,
subject matter (the “lyrics”) is not what primarily motivates me.
I want to be virtuous in the ways that I share my work with the world
and I wrestle with what that means for me.
*About the word important
I feel strongly that people should be more discerning about when they use the word “important” to describe art. Often what they mean is that a particular work of art or artist is currently influential, popular, or expensive. This does not make it important. I unreservedly believe that the arts are important to the survival of humanity, but when I hear critics or gallerists say that this or that artist or painting is “important,” it reads to me as a symptom of a perverse “art world” paradigm which is obsessed with status, money, and power -- when what the world needs more of is cultural offerings which inspire and strengthen humanity's more virtuous qualities like empathy, sensitivity to beauty, and love of life.
I'm interested in the life affirming properties of the arts, I think because I had an existential outlook from a very early age, stemming from my understanding that I was born to ease the suffering of my parents following the death of my oldest brother.
Furthermore, my coming into being has been related to me all my life as something that unfolded in mythological terms: God spoke to my mother, told her he was going to give her another child, and delivered me on her birthday.
So, I'm not interested in fetishizing neurosis in art. I need art that is a beacon of goodness in this brief life in which we'll all encounter inevitable bouts of pain.
The cheerfulness of my art is not a denial of this fact of life -- but an acknowledgement of it. I do not have the privilege of playing with tragedy and pain as a form of stimulating entertainment. It's all too real.
My art is a very real comfort to me in the face of this truth, and for whatever light it can bring into other lives I am grateful.
In the same spirit, I lack motivation to create art that is an intellectual game or of a mindset that is out to impress and dominate, demonstrate how "important" I am.
If I could have a superpower it would be to give everyone a home. A safe place that beautifully reflects and amplifies the best of who they are and hope to become. Where they can unguardedly be themselves. Lay down to sleep in peace. Wake up feeling in love with the world.
As it is, I offer my paintings and the universe that they create.
- Anne-Louise Ewen