Monday, December 5, 2011

Looking at Contemporary African Artists: Kathleen Walsh

watercolor sketch

This week our blog is supposed to reflect on a contemporary African artist.  I felt very overwhelmed at first trying to decide which artist to choose because there are so many different artists with different techniques and styles.  Some artists have a very modern look to their artwork, while others continue to use a technique that makes their artwork look like it was made back earlier African times.  The one thing that all of these artists have in common is that they all have African influences to their artwork.
I chose to research Kathleen Walsh.  Kathleen has a very distinct style, she bases her artwork off of African landscapes.  At first I questioned if I was searching under African Artists on the Art in Embassies website because her work doesn’t look like “traditional” African artwork.  I actually didn’t realize she was an African artists until I read her biography.
She was raised in New England and originally she didn’t turn to artwork during her studies, she studied Nursing and Psychotheraphy.  She didn’t get into art until the 70’s.  She thought of art as a means of powerful expression, a way that she could voice herself to others.  After being in the US and studying at the Art League School of Alexandria in Virginia she opened a studio where she painted for 3 out of the 4 season painting landscapes.  In 2008 she went to Africa where she had lived for 7 years raising a family.  She learned many techniques such as texture, shape and symbols from local African artists.  She met with these artists in the village of Safane, Burkina Faso.
Even though Kathleen isn’t originally from Africa I find it very interesting that she moved herself from a different country to go study and learn the ways of other artists.  The idea behind landscape artwork may seem boring to some, but I feel as though landscape is a very interesting choice of work because two places are never the same.  Our perspective on the landscape may be completely different from another observer, which is why I think it is so interesting that Kathleen chose to move to Africa to study and depict those landscapes and share her work with us.  I have not seen any other kinds of landscape artwork in class thus far, however this does not mean that there isn’t any other there.  This is another reason why I found Kathleen’s work so interesting.
Kathleen said, “I came to Africa to paint landscapes, but the figure caught my eye; the grace of the women, the flow of their garments.  The figure became my landscape.”  Although I couldn’t find much about Kathleen as a person, I learned a lot about her through her artwork.  Her view of how she saw things in Africa really told a lot about her.  She focused more on their clothing than she did the actual people, she showed the importance of color in their garments.  Some of her work seems abstracted, while others seem more sketch-like showing the importance of the colors through watercolor.
If you want to learn more about Kathleen Walsh her website is where you can learn more about her as well as view some of her works of art.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! I really appreciate that you noticed 1) she has lived both in the U.S. and various African countries 2) we haven't looked at landscapes at all! 3) everyone has a different perspective--which is made really obvious in landscape