Octavia Art Gallery
The Machine in the Garden
December 4, 2010 - January 8, 2011
4532 Magazine Street
Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 6pm
January 8, 2011 - February 2, 2011
440 Julia Street
Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm
Nature and technology have never really hit it off, perhaps because it is a universal human folly to believe that if enough technology is applied to any situation, nature can be brought under control.
The five Louisiana artists in this exhibition express through their work some of the implications of this deep-seated conflict. Ralph Bouruqe is one of these artists.
I am a Louisiana native, born and raised in a small farming community between New Iberia and Avery Island. I spent most of my childhood immersed in the sugarcane fields and boggy marshes there. Summertime was great for fishing, swimming, and watching hurricanes. The rest of the year, I attended elementary school on the island. Sightings of deer, alligator, peacock, and even ostriches were likely on any given day. I was immersed in the exotic beauty, power, and danger of the animals and the landscape. This experience has fostered an appreciation of the natural world and inspired my work.
Just prior to Hurricane Katrina, I was exhibiting in New Orleans on a regular basis. I was asked by David Houston of The Ogden Museum of Southern Art to create a wall drawing for the Acadiana themed exhibit, “A Spirit of Place”. Simultaneously, I was participating in a group exhibit and selling work at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery. I also made a connection with the curator of the Contemporary Art Center of New Orleans, David Rubin. David was interested in my work and asked me to participate in his last major CAC project, “The Culture of Queer”. It was a very exciting time. I sold a piece the night of the opening. The exhibit was cut short with the arrival of Katrina. Although my residence and studio in Lafayette did not suffer any major damage, many of my New Orleans relationships were strained. Many galleries were no longer operating in full capacity and my friend David Rubin opted not to return to the CAC. Just about one month after Katrina made landfall, Hurricane Rita hit. The combination of the two resulted in many budget cuts at The University of Southwestern Louisiana. Thus, my position as an adjunct instructor was greatly affected. The need to seek new employment and loss of New Orleans contacts resulted in a lapse in pursuit of exhibition opportunities.
Most recently, I have much more active in the studio again and am trying to reestablish lost connection with the New Orleans art community and hopefully create new ones. With the attention that Prospect 1 has brought, it seems that New Orleans is in bloom again. In 2008, during Prospect 1, I was able to participate in a two week residency at LA Artworks. During this time I was able to complete a large scale wall drawing in the museum for the exhibit, “Environs/Examined”. I was able to make connections with many artists and curators. These connections have led to more exhibition opportunities. In March, I will be participating in a two person exhibit at The Front Gallery in the St Claude’s Arts District .
In addition to working on drawings in the traditional format of a rectangle, I have been creating site specific drawing installations for the last ten years. The materials are basic; charcoal, graphite, ink washes and wire. The wire functions in much the same way as a line in a drawing might. It can create shape, describe form and create space. However, a wire line in actual space addresses depth as both illusion and reality. The content is usually begins with a reaction to what the drawing site’s possibilities allow. Ultimately, the installation is a reaction to the environment it is created in. In the drawing installation, “Involuntary Memory”, the work was conceived and executed during a two-week residency at LA Artworks in New Orleans After collecting dozens of digital images in the area. A collage was then designed and drawn with a sharpie directly on the galley wall. Positive and negative shapes are utilized to explore the formal relationship between depiction and abstraction. The imagery of the sleeping man and the distilled landscape are metaphors used to address issues of independence versus isolation and communication versus silence.
In a much broader view of my work, observations of animal behavior and human behavior have often informed the content as well. The best examples of this are my ink on paper pieces. Most recently, I was inspired by the wildlife that visits the grounds of my studio in the evening. As I take my two small dogs out for their last walk before retiring, I find myself wary of the creatures lurking in the darkness and the potential danger they pose. I became interested in using nocturnal imagery as a metaphor for the subliminal. With that in mind, these creatures are meant to embody a darker aspect of the subconscious.
That idea is in contrast to my application of sheep as a humanitarian allegory. The use of the sheep imagery came about after reading an article in National Geographic. As I understand, sheep are capable of recognizing dozens of others in the flock by their face. This ability, though maybe not so extraordinary, somehow humanized the flock and inspired a group portrait.
1999 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture / http://www.skowheganart.org/
1998 MFA Pratt Institute / http://www.pratt.edu/
1995 BFA The University of Southwestern Louisiana / http://www.louisiana.edu/
2009 “How I Learned to Stop Worrying”, Jonathan Ferarra Gallery, New Orleans, LA /http://www.jonathanferraragallery.com/
2008 “Congregate”, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA /http://acadianacenterforthearts.org/
2004 “I Want to Believe”, Galerie Lafayette, Lafayette, Louisiana
2004 “Back Stage, with Stevie Nicks”, Project Room, Lafayette, Louisiana
2002 “I Adore You”, P.S. 122 Gallery, New York, New York / http://www.ps122gallery.org/
1999 “Feels Like Home”, Broadway Windows, New York, NY
1997 “MFA Thesis Exhibition”, Second Floor Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY /http://www.pratt.edu/about_pratt/visiting_pratt/exhibitions/pratt_manhattan_gallery/
1994 “BFA Thesis Exhibition”, University Art Museum, Lafayette, LA /http://museum.louisiana.edu/
2009 “The Southern Open” Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA /http://acadianacenterforthearts.org/
2009 “ArtMelt” Brunner Gallery, Baton Rouge, LAhttp://www.brunnergallery.com/main/home.php?page=home&subitem=home
2009 “Spring 2009”, Ephemeral Gallery, Baton Rouge, LA /http://www.irondesignllc.com/ephemeralgallery.html
2009 “Pal Shazar and Ralph Bourque” The Front, New Orleans, LA /http://www.nolafront.org/
2008 “Environs/examined” LA artworks, New Orleans, LA /http://www.louisianaartworks.org/
2008 “Products of Higher Education” Louisiana State Archives, Baton Rouge, LA
2007 “Southern Open”, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA, Juror: Jerry Cullum /http://acadianacenterforthearts.org/
2007 “20 x 20 x 20” / LSU Union Art Gallery / Baton Rouge, LA, Juror: David Rubin /http://unionweb.lsu.edu/