Sept. 10, 2008 12:00
Kathy Reed and Steve Breaux explore the connections between Mother Earth, man and machine.

Artists Kathy Reed and Steve Breaux had an interesting summer vacation. First thing, every morning, they wrote in their dream journals. Then they went outside and found something new in their Lafayette back yard, brought it inside and sketched it on a big sheet of paper they had pinned to their studio wall. They spent the day researching 20th century machinery forms — mostly from the oilfield — as well as public buildings like water towers, and space race items. At night, after dinner, they wrapped up their leftovers in squares of white silk and buried them in the yard.

“Every culture has its rituals,” says Breaux. “We were working intuitively, creating new rituals, connecting ourselves to the earth, the earth to our art.” After a month they began unearthing the buried silk, which had been etched by acids in the soil. Liking the results so much, they tacked more silk to their roof, letting the sky have its turn.

Those four elements ­— the inner world of dreams, the built world of machines, the earth, and the sky — have been incorporated into a body of work called Above & Below, Within & Without, which opens this Saturday at the Acadiana Center for the Arts.

Reed and Breaux have long been known for their exquisite dye paintings on silk. Previous shows have focused on indigenous Louisiana organic forms and the elements of alchemy. This show takes their keen observations of nature a step further, looking at the relationship between the structure of plants and machines. A magnolia seed pod corresponds to a water tower, a lotus bud to a rocket ship, a water lily bloom to a mushroom cloud.

The medium has also evolved. Dye on silk creates one dimensional, color saturated paintings; however, the pair wanted to work more on surface and texture. Look for collages on paper, multi-layered paintings on canvas, printed matter stitched to fabric, and of course the series of earth and sky etchings, which will hang like flags representing the elements that we rarely notice.

Above & Below, Within & Without, new work from Steven Breaux and Kathy Reed, will open Saturday, Sept. 13, during ArtWalk, at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, 101 W. Vermilion St. in downtown Lafayette. An artists reception will be held on Saturday at the ACA from 6 until 8 p.m. Admission is free. Spaces: Real and Imagined, works by Angelo Arnold and Gaetano LaRoche, will also be on exhibit. For more info, call 233-7060.

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