Melissa Bonin’s canvases capture world light, reflected on water. The long gnarled fingers reach with urgent stillness. Growing side by side for centuries, always just out of reach of one another, live oaks and cypresses stretch, longing to intertwine the brittle tips of branches before they grow too old and topple. Or so it seems in the fairy tale light of Melissa Bonin’s latest series of works, Dances on Water.
The New Iberia painter has been enthralled by the reflections of sky on water along Bayou Teche, painting the tree-lined waterway the way Monet painted Rouen Cathedral, over and over in every permutation of the changing light. Red dawns, golden afternoons, evenings falling blue. The bayou sometimes floats beneath a blanket of fog, or wavers as if seen through a window sheeted with rain, Spanish moss dripping silently without stirring the water’s surface.
Bonin’s painting technique is a la prima. She approaches her blank canvas without any preliminary drawings and begins to move layers of oil paint. Wet on wet, the colors assemble themselves into flowing water, sky, and tree lined river bank all at one time. When she draws, hanging moss and dangling vine spin themselves into calligraphy.
Clearly, the trees talk to Bonin. And with her brush, she answers them.
Dances on Water opens Saturday, Nov. 8, from 6-8 p.m. in the Side Gallery at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in conjunction with the November ArtWalk. On Nov. 18, beginning at 6 p.m., Melissa Bonin will be joined by poets Darrell Bourque and Sidney Creaghan for a gallery talk and poetry reading. For more information, call the ACA at 233-7060.