For Country Roads’ 2019 Visual Arts issue, we recognized a great opportunity to share one facet of this arts-focused coverage: close conversations with the decision-makers at some of the region’s most intriguing museums. We asked several curators to predict the next big thing, those up-and-coming artists soon to shake up the Louisiana arts scene.
Benjamin Hickey, Curator of Exhibitions
Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Museum
“Increasingly, I am inspired by artists whose work skillfully conveys a sense of shared humanity and purpose. For example, Stephon Senegal’s acts of service to people in need seem extremely urgent.
See more at stephonsenegal.com and on Instagram @stephonsenegal.
I am also drawn to the works of Stephanie Patton and Joshua Chambers. Both use their artistic practices to grapple with the intricacies of navigating human relationships. Their hallmarks are a compelling mixture of text, irony, and emotional generosity. Patton works in video, mattress upholstery, and any other material deemed appropriate while Chambers primarily paints with acrylic on panel.
“I also find the work of Emily Stergar especially engaging with respect to ideas of land use and the resiliency of nature. As society continues to come to terms with the idea that using resources is markedly different than actually controlling nature, I feel that her work will become an important touchstone.
See more at emilystergar.com and on Instagram @emilystergar.
Dr. Monica Ramirez-Montagut, Director and Chief Curator
Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University
“New Orleans native Carl Joe Williams creates vibrant and uniquely captivating worlds inhabited by normal folk with seemingly normal lives that nonetheless exude auras in the likeness of deities. His characters are all immersed in dense, pulsating color fields of geometric patterns and concentric designs that manifest as a sort of community connective tissue with direct influences from African rituals and cultural systems. Occasionally, the rippled atmosphere surrounding his protagonists flows beyond the canvas through wallpaper-like extensions that subconsciously embrace the viewer. Williams’ visually enveloping fields—saturated with intuitive and harmonious links between color, music, sound, vibrations, nature, and water—conjure a space for the discovery of commonalities. His paintings feature a shared humanity highlighting a long and deep historical continuum with African traditions—where slavery to current oppressive contexts are but a chapter, a moment in a vast timeline. The expansiveness and optimistic personality of Williams’ compositions are his way of resisting oppression and the intentional minimization of the humanity of the African American community.
See more at carljoewilliams.com and on Instagram at @carl.joe.williams.
Megan Valentine, Curator and Registrar
Alexandria Museum of Art
“Originally from Pineville, Pat Phillips has seen an impressive rise in the past year. He spent some time creating in Alexandria and selling his work at art festivals before he was selected for a Joan Mitchell Fellowship in 2017 and then exhibited with the Whitney Biennial exhibition in 2019. His work began as street art and graffiti on a variety of media and has developed through the years, influenced by artists such as Romare Bearden, while still incorporating the street art style.
PAT PHILLIPS “Roots,” 2011, acrylic on wood panel.
See more of Phillips work at patphillipsart.com and on Instagram at @vito_farinola.
Bradley Sumrall, Curator of the Collection
Ogden Museum of Southern Art
“John Isiah Walton is a painter born in 1985 in New Orleans, where he continues to live and work. Walton’s paintings are executed with expressive and frenetic brush strokes, creating surfaces filled with an energy and motion that seems to pulsate with the rhythms of contemporary New Orleans music and dance. While building upon the work of the Neo-Expressionists, his narratives, mark-making, and visual aesthetic also reference contemporary street art and Social Expressionism. This is vibrant and relevant work that speaks to the urban South. This young man is on fire, so collectors should strike while the iron is hot!”
See more at johnisiahwalton.com and on Instagram at @john_isiah_gt.
JOHN ISAIAH WALTON “Hot Girl Summer”, 2019, Oil on canvas, Collection of the artist.