Beneath the sinuous linework, layered jewel tones, and energetic compositions, Nedret Andre’s work has always relied on structure, albeit a fluid one. In her abstractions of eelgrass beds, she conjures a sense of order (or, in the case of darker works, disorder) acted upon by natural forces, such as shifting tides and sunlight.
In this grouping of recent work, Andre continues her exploration of the natural word, yet this time also takes inspiration from 14th-century Sienese frescoes by the painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti. The juxtaposition of another artist—his browns, reds and blues, his proto-Renaissance blend of the Byzantine and Classical, his twisting perspectives and moralistic personifications of governance—are at first incongruous against Andre’s bright lyricism and forward-thinking. Yet they are deeply in tune with her demonstrated sense of curiosity and stewardship as an artist-activist—and with her longstanding, underlying focus on composition as a balancing act.
Superimposing Lorenzetti’s ideals for civic life upon Andre’s crusade for flourishing seagrass meadows is a surprising move, but one that ends up propelling Andre’s art through a progression of form, color, and content that looks seamless within the greater context of her oeuvre. Sometimes, it is just as important to look back as it is to look ahead.
—Olivia J. Kiers, 2020
Curatorial Assistant, Worcester Art Museum
More details about the exhibition can be found at Beacon Gallery.
Mapping Seagrass, Oil on Canvas, 60″x 48″, 2020
In “Mapping Seagrass” I created a large scale abstract map of Duxbury Bay. I wanted to recreate our experience of “Searching for Seagrass”. In August 2019. I volunteered on a “Citizen’s Scientist” project with Mass Bay NSRWA Watershead ecologist Sara Grady in Duxbury Bay. They had been documenting eelgrass in the area for several years and monitoring the water quality. We went to 18 different sites in two days and our job was to do document the seagrass. We only found one site with eelgrass. These eelgrass sites are disappearing at fast rates. In my painting I tried to capture the beautiful day and this movement of zipping to different locations looking for seagrass.
When The Fog Rolls In, Oil on Canvas, 48″x 60″, 2018
Tangible, intangible, fog brings this wealth of sensations that we are not usually aware of. This experience of being engulfed by Fog happened on one of my field trips with Alyssa Novak’s seagrass conservation group in Wellfleet. One minute we were harvesting seagrass the next minute the fog was so dense that you could barely see anything. It was amazing since all your sense came alive, colors were brighter, textures more exaggerated , and the sound almost went up a notch. In this painting I try to capture this tension between dulling down and the unexpected magnification of beauty of the eelgrass meadow.
Collecting Samples, Oil on Canvas, 24”x 72”, 2020
Collecting Samples depicts the rich biodiversity of a seagrass meadow underwater as I experienced it snorkeling to collect data samples in Virginia for a Long Term Study on Eelgrass. I reversed the colors so the blue-greens of the water became hot orange-pinks to feature seagrass as the prominent stars of the habitat. The physical sample collecting part was a balancing act for me; dealing with wave action, moon jelly fish and occasional stingrays that swam by made it a little hard to collect exactly the right amount of sediment.