“WE THE PEOPLE” Exhibit by Artist-in-Residence Bouchard
An exhibit of new paintings and sculptures titled “WE THE PEOPLE” by artist Renée Bouchard is now on display at Southern Vermont College’s Burgdorff Gallery through April 7th. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Bouchard’s mixed media new works range from large-scale paintings created domestically with children, to sculptures and collages using recycled materials to inspire provocative messaging. The artist likes to use titles such as “Small New Universes,” “Gallantly Cowboys Stride,” and “Planned Parenthood (I Miss You)” to constrain the viewer within the ambiguity of her abstract representational work. The exhibit also includes an unfinished painting hanging in the exhibit that anyone from the community is invited to work on, using provided materials.
As Artist-in-Residence at SVC, Bouchard is teaching a class this semester called “Art, Making and Meaning.” Students in this class are collaborating with children involved in the PAVE (Project Against Violent Encounters) program and Bennington Early Childhood Center on large-scale canvas paintings and a repurposed sculptural installation titled “The Beginning of the Last Suckle,” which Bouchard began in 2008 funded from an individual artist grant from the Vermont Arts Council.
Bouchard says that her work with children is a means to expand her visual vocabulary while emphasizing the importance of early childhood education. “Children’s art is very much like tribal art. The experience of making it is more important than the actual product, since its purpose isn’t intended as commodity. The meaning then comes from the intention for ritual, and/or from the lure of magic,” Bouchard said. The artist sees children’s art as the earliest and most abstract search for language. She believes that when art is made for the experience of making it, it then becomes quite possible for the viewer to experience it subconsciously. “This happening can change one’s perspective on a particular atmosphere and/or place in time and history,” she stated. “Escaping the confines of one reality and entering a new reality is often where I find meaning within the complexity of the mind and the emotions it houses.”
Bouchard attended the Phoebe Flory Watercolor School in New Hampshire, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and graduated from the Maine College of Art (MECA) in 1999. In 2014, Bouchard received the MECA Emerging Artist Award from “Down East” magazine, which included one of her paintings on their 60th anniversary cover, and MECA was the beneficiary of $10,000 in her name. Bouchard has received many other honors and awards from institutions such as Burlington City Arts, the Vermont Arts Council, The Lab School/Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, The Cooper Union, and Kate Millett’s Women’s Art Colony Farm. Her paintings have received recognition from Janet Bishop, curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Stephan Phillips of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and have been published in “Folk Art Messenger” and “Art New England.” She lives and works in Bennington, Vermont. For more information on Bouchard and to view her work, visit renee-bouchard.com.