Each year, NOMA selects a handful of individuals to honor for their contributions to the Crescent City art scene. This year’s honorees are kinetic sculptor Lin Emery, experimental video maker Courtney Egan, abstract illusionist painter Richard Johnson, architect Grover Mouton, and action painter Amanda Stone Talley.
Botanical art has been with us since the earliest days of civilization, turning up on ancient Egyptian tombs and Greek and Roman monuments. Plants and animals are always in a state of evolutionary flux, so the artists of the past have been a major source of information about species no longer with us today. But art too evolves, and Courtney Egan’s Field Recordings expo reflects a turning point, not only for botanical art but also for video, liberated at last from monitors and projection screens. All that Egan’s work requires is a room with twilight lighting, a cool aesthetic gloom of the sort closed curtains or blinds can easily provide.
In the dimly lit studio, where Egan was preparing for an exhibit of her works titled “Field Studies” at Heriard-Cimino Gallery, the spinning flower seemed almost real, as if you could reach out and touch it. But it was actually an example of what Egan, one of New Orleans’ premier video artists, described as her “pretty trickery.” The trumpet flower, bee and yellow droplets were all the product of sly video projection.