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July 2011

Louise Wells Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC, Offers Works by Clyde Connell

The Louise Wells Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC, is presenting the exhibit, Clyde Connell: Swamp Songs, on view through Oct. 2, 2011.

From melody to mark, the totemic work of in this exhibition delivers a powerful impression. Connell’s natural language is from the swamp land of Louisiana. She discovered her voice there and her artwork reflects its magical effects.

In a New York Times obituary, noted art critic Roberta Smith described artist Clyde Connell’s source of inspiration: “Like O’Keefe, she drew inspiration from the region in which she lived. She used brown earth and red clay to color her drawings and sculptures, as well as bits of iron scrap that her son, Brian, a cotton farmer, found in his fields. Connell had a mystical view of nature and described her drawings as transcriptions of its music, heard on the bayou.”

Initially a representational artist, Connell connected with Abstract Expressionism after a visit to New York City in the 1950’s. She was automatically drawn to the work of its artists and the forms it took - it was a language she understood. Another strong influence on Connell was the African American families she grew up with on her father’s plantation. Her empathetic ear and heart reverberates especially in her portraits. The bulk of Connell’s work was done over a thirty year period while living with her husband on Lake Bistineau in northwest Louisiana.

Clyde Connell: Swamp Songs includes canvases of mixed media of monochromatic melodies drawn with apparent random precision. The totems in the exhibition include a range in size from small to very large “towers.” Entwined within the artwork are mural-sized photographs of life on the swamp which lends an immersive quality to the experience. One can all but hear the sounds of the Louisiana wetlands. Connell’s early work is reflected in paintings and prints in the exhibition. The concluding film “Clyde Connell Swamp Song” by Adam Simon in 1985, speaks to Connell’s process and method of construction of her artwork.

Connell, died at the age of 97, having worked full-time as an artist since her sixties. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), the New Orleans Museum of Art, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin, Texas.

This exhibition, organized by the Cameron Art Museum, includes work loaned from the private collections, in addition to work from museum collections. The exhibition will include sculpture, drawings, paintings, photographs, film and ephemera relating to the artist’s life and work. The artist’s daughter, Clyde C. Ent, lives in Wilmington, NC, with her husband Bill Ent, and is a consultant to the exhibition.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 910/395-5999 or visit (


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