Living Ind

Making Her Mark

by Mary Tutwiler

Baton Rouge artist Billie Bourgeois opens a cheery new show at Galerie Eclaireuse. “A poem should not mean, but be,” is the famous closing line of Archibald MacLeish’s poem, “Ars Poetica.” That’s the way Baton Rouge artist Billie Bourgeois approaches her work. “There’s no heavy symbolism here. What you see is what you get,” she says of her paintings and prints.

What you get is pure bright pigment in Bourgeois’ encaustic monoprints that feel as sunny and hopeful as the New Year. Bourgeois draws with melting squares of pure color trapped in beeswax and resin on a heated aluminum plate. As the color flows, she creates an abstract drawing which she captures by laying a sheet of Japanese paper over it, sealing a single, original print. Bourgeois loves the hot wax process. “Making the monoprints is really spontaneous and playful,” she says. “It’s fast. It’s a creative workout when you do it. It gets the blood pumping.”

Her latest series is titled Mark Making. A lot of the work is inspired by nature, particularly the Barataria Preserve below New Orleans, part of the Jean Lafitte National Park System. She is moved by the natural world, but not in making representational art. “I look for patterns, gestures in tree forms, and then when I draw, it’s like a dialogue between my eye and hand. I’m not interested in making a duplicate of what I see, more a responsive mark to my conversation with nature.”

Mark Making opens Saturday, Jan. 10, at 5:30 p.m., in conjunction with ArtWalk, at Galerie Eclaireuse, 535.5 Jefferson St. To see more of Bourgeois’ work, go to her Web site at Lafayette artist Mary Perrin will also be exhibiting her altered books at the opening. For more information, call the gallery at 234-5492.