Alison grew up camping and exploring the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and British Columbia, in Canada. Her father, a geologist with his pickaxe, taught her about geology, evolution, and hunting for fossils. Her mother, an avid gardener, taught her about plants and how to pay attention to the natural world. Science and Nature became her teachers. At seventeen, Alison began traveling around the world on yearlong extended trips through Asia and Central/South America. This was before the Internet or cell phones, and it was as if she had walked through a curtain into the unknown world, cut-off, self sufficient, an explorer. Alison lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she is currently on sabbatical from teaching art at Albuquerque Academy. She is focused exclusively on painting and developing her art in her studio at the Harwood Art Center. For the past sixteen years she taught all levels of drawing and painting, including AP Drawing. She particularly loves taking students on wilderness art-making trips. Alison has a BFA in painting from the University of Calgary, in Canada, and a master’s degree in Art Therapy from the University of New Mexico. Her background in outdoor education and art therapy have given her a deep appreciation for the transformative and healing power of both nature and art. Her work has been in juried shows at 516 Arts Downtown, Albuquerque, and The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. Botanicals have long served as essential symbols and archetypes in the human imagination. Using encaustic, oil paint, collage and drawing, I merge representation with metaphor to create botanical abstractions. Botany, conservation, and the human urge to imbue plants with symbolic and psychological significance, inform my work. Worldwide, many plants are threatened by human-caused climate change and degradation; the human psyche is also threatened when it is disconnected from the natural world. The concept of Biophilia— the innate human love of nature – as described by the American biologist Edward O. Wilson and others, motivates my art and imagery. I see plants as essential to the human soul and imagination, as well as being essential to the health of our planet. In my compositions, I use color interpretively, combining the endlessly complex and varied forms of seeds, flowers, pods, and pollen with abstract elements. Sometimes I include hand-drawn images of threatened species in my paintings, and sometimes I embed old dictionary pages to reference science and history. I usually include a variety of mixed media under and over the encaustic wax layers, to create visual depth. Encaustic medium is made from beeswax derived from plant pollen, a material that depends upon the availability of pollinator plants. For me, art making is an alchemical process. Rather than simple, realistic depictions of plants, I’m interested in an intriguing middle ground, where elements and references become abstract, whisper suggestions, and transition into a mysterious realm: nuanced, poetic and unknown.
- Jennifer Lawrence Bennett
- Jack Alexander