April 13th- May 12th
Arts France: Inspiration 81430
From the Monastery in Ambialet, through St. Francis University’s summer
Set in the peaceful space of a renovated 17th Century monastery, Arts France offers an
immersive learning experience designed to incubate creativity and curiosity. Located at
Saint Francis University’s Ambialet site, Le Prieuré is perched on a hilltop in
southwestern France, an ideal environment for artists to cultivate their creative practice
and connect with other artists.
An integral part of the Arts France program is how various art making disciplines inform
each other, activating the individual artistic voice through self-discovery and
participation in creative community. The artists share their talents, actively engaging in
the dynamic community, collaboration, enriching discussion, critiques, lectures by guest
artists, and trips to nearby villages and markets.
The work in this exhibit is by the artists at the 2017 summer residency, as inspiration
from that setting continues to influence their work.
Phiris Kathy Sickles
For Love of Imagination
A mélange of creative expression from Occitanie
The roots of this exhibition are not far from Ambialet, in Lavelanet (a small town in the
region of Occitanie, in the Department of the Ariège in southwestern France) and its
local art association Avelan’Arts. The work includes oil, acrylic, and phosphorescent
paint, mixed media, mirror effect photography, monotype, b/w photography, watercolor,
Occitanie is a special region largely influenced by Spanish refugees who fled over the
Pyrenees into France from Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime. The descendants
of these refugees finally settled in the area. The Ariège is predominantly a farming area,
currently the economically poorest department in all of France. In the Lavelanet area the
textile industry used to be the major industry but has gradually disappeared. Through
the late Middle Ages Occitanie experienced a long period of persecution of the Cathars
by the Catholic Church. Many of the ruins of Cathar Castles still dot the landscape and
are the foundation of modern day mysticism, religion and spirituality in the region.
This economic and historical background leaves its mark on the creative work of artists
from this area. Some of them live quite remotely up in the mountains, and in the woods
(e.g. Michel Pagès, Christine Michelon). Others draw their inspiration from its religious
history (e.g. Camille Vandoorsselaere, Maïthé Mercaderre). Andrew McConnell follows
the path of Lavelanet’s lost textile industry. These artists are largely untouched by any
current artistic trend and each one of them has developed his/her own distinct style.
Co-curators: Carmen Hay Kolodzey and Linda Gilbert-Schneider
Andrew Hay McConnell