Amy Stewart’s series Sometimes Blue offers a space for sadness. Intended to spark a conversation about the types of feelings we communicate, the pieces reflect Stewart’s wish to have people open up about desolation and grief, or simply to acknowledge freely their experiences with the “blues”. When we don’t address our sadness in public, and when we receive such constant messages to be happy, we end up neglecting more difficult feelings for fear of bringing down or producing discomfort in ourselves or others. As a nod to this social pressure, Stewart gives each piece in her series a happy name, so that Sometimes Blue affirms sadness as a real and necessary experience, one that ought not to be stifled beneath the pressures of happiness. The series emphasizes dark shapes that push against or absorb the sharp lines of happiness—not refusing the possibility of joy, but embracing sadness as its own right.
The “Reimagine” series developed out of Amy Stewart’s encounters with natural and urban environments. Through a process of observation, deconstruction, and transformation, Stewart represents geographical shapes and structures through her own aesthetic vision. Soft and angular layers of colour stretch across Stewart’s canvases, intersecting with strong, geometric lines. The abstract nature of these paintings attest to the diverse ways in which we all regard the spaces we occupy through our own unique perspectives. For Stewart, “whatever location I’m in has a profound influence on me. These pieces articulate the way places—mountains, buildings, forest, sky—look to me as they are filtered through my imagination.” By playing with shape and form, the pieces in “Reimagine” offer a way to see the world differently.
Landscapes and the natural world have always served as the foundation for Amy Stewart’s art, and several of her recent pieces extend that fascination, deconstructing the world around her as she experiences grief. This past year has been difficult for so many, as we suffer our own personal losses and respond to distressing national and global events. The practice of painting—brush strokes, motion and play on the canvas, the control of paint—helps Stewart process pain and recognize glimpses of hope.
Stewart’s paintings express those intermingled experiences of despair and recovery. The paint and shapes on the canvas convey chaotic movement—the swell of feeling beneath a surge of tragedies. As a counterbalance, the strong lines and geometrical shapes hold steady the turbulence of our lives. They remind us of beauty and goodness, and that reminder can help us to regain control of our grief, and to find moments of happiness again.