(April 13, 2017) Meghan Fleming, associate professor of art at McNeese State University, is one of 37 Louisiana artists to be featured in the recent book, “Expressions of Place: The Contemporary Louisiana Landscape,” written by New Orleans native John Kemp and published by the University of Mississippi Press.
Kemp’s book features paintings from both acclaimed professionals to up-and-comers, with artistic styles that range from traditional to the abstract. The paintings included explore the Louisiana landscape - from the bayous, coastal marshland and grassy prairies to the gritty streets of inner city New Orleans and the piney hills of north and central Louisiana.
The book includes an introductory essay, which places these creators and their works in historical context. “Expressions of Place” provides readers with individual essays and biographical sketches in which the artists, in their own words, give insight as to what they paint, how they paint, where they paint and why they are drawn to the Louisiana landscape.
Of Fleming’s work, Kemp writes, "Like the Louisiana landscape painters of the late 19th century who created luminary images of the region's coastal marshes, rivers and bayous, Meghan Fleming has found her inspiration in the coastal marshes of the Sabine River delta of southwest Louisiana.”
Fleming says, “I am interested in the dynamic between land and water, and the necessary yet sometimes perilous balance between them. The marsh of Southwest Louisiana is full in every sense. It has a humming sound and a pungent scent. The wind moves the grasses, the current moves the water and the animals move among both. The land is constantly shifting . . . It is through the act of painting and drawing where I find myself within this flux, confronting the need for sustainability with the inevitableness of impermanence…”
The devastation of the marsh landscape after hurricanes Rita and Ike became Fleming’s focus in 2010. She used maps from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources to compare the marsh over a period of time, most specifically from 1998 to 2010.
“My goal was not to make actual maps, but rather to use the maps to create drawings that show time and change. The maps provide an uninterrupted view of the marsh…The longer I looked at the maps, the more I became aware of loss,” she says.
Fleming, who has a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Indiana University, has been at McNeese since 1999.