Aquatilis No. 6
Aquatilis No.6, 2006
Aquatilis No. 6 is part of a series by Washington-based artist Betsy Stewart that finds inspiration in the microscopic organisms living in water. She covered this sculpture with painted, biomorphic forms, as if the freestanding totem is an imaginary cross section of what might lurk in ponds and other bodies of water. The wooden structure is painted with thin, layered washes of color that summon both the bright and the murky greens and blues of water life, with fine details drawn in sumi-e ink. With her imagery, Stewart draws our attention to humanity’s place in relation to the natural world. To create her paintings and sculptures, Stewart studies scientific textbooks, looking to microscopic life forms as well as cosmic phenomena as starting points for her shapes. Her artworks are full of motion as these forms bounce and cluster, ebb and flow across her painted surfaces. Fittingly, Stewart has long been engaged with movement, as she studied early on as a dancer under Merce Cunningham, and views her process of painting as reminiscent of choreographing a dance performance.