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On the blog: Signe Stuart returns to South Dakota

May 5, 2013
by Anna Huntington, community arts coordinator for The Sculpture Project

Sante Fe artist Signe Stuart has an exhibit opening at the Dahl Arts Center Friday, May 10, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Stuart, originally from Connecticut, taught at South Dakota State University from 1972 to 1994, and the exhibit is a much-anticipated homecoming among the local art community. Signe and her husband, Joe Stuart, will be in Rapid City for the opening reception.

Thomas Thorson, an artist based in Hill City, says Stuart was the best professor he had at SDSU and that she and her husband, Joe Stuart, were always encouraging and hugely influential. Tom credits the Stuarts with putting him on a path to a fellowship at Yale.

Tom shared this excerpt about Stuart's work and the impact of her time in South Dakota on her work from James Yood's essay for Stuart's 1995 retrospective:

"Stuart once wrote of her work that her paintings, 'open dialogues about the space of Nature and the nature of space.'

More than a well-turned phrase, this is also a concise and poetic description of her concerns.  I might only reverse the order of that statement to present a summary of her interests as they developed over her career; certainly, the space of Nature began to loom larger and larger in Stuart's work as the time in South Dakota advanced, and it is not too much to see in her work of the 1980s some of the expanse of the Great Plains, the grand sweep of a panoply of nature.  Stuart's work is never a depiction of the land or sea or sky, never a straight forward rendering of any particular site, but is instead an effort at achieving an equivalence for nature, an allusive search for its essences and dictates.  Her long sojourn in a part of the United States that is marked by particularly stark confrontations of earth, sky, and weather, by the echoes of previous civilizations and of humankind's efforts to utilize nature's resources, is all imbued into her work.  The breeze that often seems to rush through her paintings, their broad expanses and gradations of color and shape, are her gestures to the prairie and to the life we have wrought upon it."

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