(Shreveport, LA) – April 25, 2015, 11:56 Nepal Standard Time and a 7.8 magnitude earthquake has just struck northwest of the capital of Kathmandu killing 8,967 people, injuring 21,952, leaving 3.5 million homeless and causing an estimated $10 billion in damage.
The Gorkha earthquake was one of the worst natural disasters to ever strike Nepal. Images of crumbled historic temples, avalanches on Mt. Everest, entire villages destroyed and decimated terraced farms and livestock dominated the television screens and front pages of major news agencies across the world. For thousands of innocent victims, it was a life ending experience. For Northwest Louisiana ARTIST M DOUGLAS WALTON the “quake in paradise” was a life altering one—an experience that literally shook him to his soul.
August 31, 2017, 5:00 p.m. Central Standard Time, Douglas Walton will unveil “QUAKE IN PARADISE: ECHOES OF NEPAL” at artspace Shreveport, a profoundly different set of images to those shown by the news media in 2015. These are artful images, created by putting Benjamin Moore latex interior paint, vinyl, duct tape and tissue paper on canvas. Walton purposefully chose these materials because he felt the elevated spiritual quality he hoped to achieve with his art couldn’t happen without something tough enough to echo the moment when everything changed for him. Collectively the exhibition tells a story of beauty and light as only someone who has been transformed after surviving a catastrophic incident can illustrate it.
On Friday, September 1, 2017 there will also be an opportunity to meet Artist Douglas Walton during a Nepalese inspired luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The luncheon will take place in the exhibitionat artspace at 708 Texas St. in downtown Shreveport, and will be prepared by Southern Fork Catering. Tickets are $30 and are available online at artspaceshreveport.com or by calling artspace at 318-673-6535.
“MOMENT,” a stark painting in the exhibition where a bridge seems to span vast white space to connect darkness depicts the exact moment on April 25, 2015 when Walton and his group of 14 American and Canadian artists started across the Friendship Bridge into Tibet and their world began to shake violently. “HAVEN” surreally represents five days in a, rainy blue tarp safe haven on a terraced hilltop that seems to ascend into the very nightmare of the catastrophe with intense ethereal energy. “PATHWAYS”—the piece Walton considers the centerpiece of the exhibit—is a scattering of rose petals mimicking rose petals that were placed on the steps outside of the blue tarp refugee village each morning in the days after the quake. The rose petals were carefully and lovingly placed on the path by the Nepalese children to provide a way of hope for the artists and to remind them that beauty and light can overpower the bleak grey of dust and destruction.
“It is through “QUAKE IN PARADISE: ECHOES OF NEPAL” that I am now scattering my own rose petals—to tell the story of the Nepalese people and their spiritual triumphs,” says Artist Douglas Walton. “As I was preparing to leave Nepal, a village elder looked at my sketches from the earthquake and told me that Nepal needed my voice to speak the truth and to tell their story through my paintings. When I returned home, Senator Bill Cassidy, R-LA, also urged me to use my art to give voice to the story of what happened in Nepal. I know it is my obligation to this beautiful culture and its gentle people to continue to scatter the rose petals,” concluded Walton.
At the same time that Walton’s art is featured in MainSpace at artspace, Raluca Iancu, another Ruston artist, will exhibit “Vicarious Trauma” upstairs in CoolSpace @ artspace. Iancu’s art, similar to Walton’s, explores disaster, tragedy, memory and vulnerability. The focus of her artspace exhibition will be the installation piece, “It’s Not Easy to Stop a Train.” This is immersive art that presents the viewer with a chance to “step into” one compartment of a crashed long distance passenger train and experience catharsis. Iancu hopes the audience will view the installation from the perspective of both spectator and victim, with attraction and repulsion, as one in control and one forced to submit, as someone wanting to forget versus one who is unable to get the scene out of her mind. Iancu is an international artist who has held residencies in Newfoundland, New York City, Poland and Romania. She is currently the Assistant Professor of Drawing and Printmaking at Louisiana Tech University.
“artspace is Shreveport’s place where the public connects to the Arts in wonderful, new and exciting ways, and The Shreveport Regional Arts Council is excited to offer Northwest Louisiana the chance to connect to Ruston Artist Douglas Walton and his powerful images of recovery, hope and beauty,” said Pam Atchison, SRAC Executive Director. “This is an exhibition full of the inner echoes of life, and one I think takes us to the Nepal tragedy through the visual trajectory of Doug’s inspiring artistry,” added Atchison.
The QUAKE IN PARADISE: ECHOES OF NEPAL Exhibition will open in Mainspace @ artspace in Shreveport on Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. and will run through September 30, 2017. Raluca Iancu’s exhibit will open in CoolSpace @ artspace that same evening. Douglas Walton will meet, greet and share his experiences during the free Opening Reception Thursday evening, August 31, will host a ticketed luncheon on Friday, September 1, and will provide an Artist’s Talk in September. For more information, visit www.artspaceshreveport.com.