(September 10, 2015)

Meadows Museum of Art opens "Salty and Bright: A Fragrant Trail of Spice Works" by Stephen Watson

Spice Display

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary College of Louisiana will be the site of multidisciplinary artist Stephen Watson's most extensive installation to date—a series of intricate, geometric floor "paintings" created with spices. In a weeklong residency, Watson will be assisted by Professor Bruce Allen's art students to help produce a meticulous spice trail in over a dozen buildings, including the Meadows, the Turner Art Center, Magale Library, Marjorie Lyons Playhouse, the Gold Dome, and others. His works will remain on display until October 14.

"These spice paintings on the floor are location indicators, like targets or pins on a map. ... They are concentrations of my presence, marking a place where I sat, breathed, worked, and believed," said Watson. "They are temporary evidence that I was here and there, and they are intentional, physical reminders of the unseen things I also leave behind."

Watson's art is deeply rooted in his Christian faith. He began to make spice installations while completing his MFA at the University of Alabama as a way "to serve and be accountable to the two communities to which [he] belongs: The Christian community and the visual arts community." Seeking a complex sensory metaphor that went beyond traditional materials and symbols, Watson started creating installations at his church to illustrate each week's sermons. To recall the anointing of feet and biblical passages about fragrant offerings, Watson created a spice threshold that congregants crossed while leaving the service, literally showing their path into the world.

On September 19, the public is cordially invited to a free reception at the Meadows from 5-7 p.m., with food and drink provided by the Friends of the Meadows Museum. At 5:45 p.m., Watson will give a gallery talk in the Turner Art Center at 3000 Centenary Blvd. Maps to all his works will be available at the Meadows, and on the Meadows Calendar web page.

Watson teaches art at Samford University in Birmingham. While in residence at Centenary, he will meet with the United Methodist Student Movement as well as film, art history, studio arts, and museum management classes. He will also speak on art and faith at ClearView Church on September 20 at 10 a.m.

The Meadows will host additional free educational programs in conjunction with this exhibit:

  • On Saturday, Oct. 10 at 1 pm, Dr. David Otto, Chair of the Religious Studies Department, will present "Mandalas: Their Meaning and Use," to survey the use of similar geometric designs within religions worldwide.
  • On Monday Oct. 12 at 7 pm, Dr. Cherie-Ann Nathan, Director of Head & Neck Surgical Oncology at the Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, will discuss “Spices as Medicine," introducing the latest research on the healing properties of spices.

Watson's visit to Centenary is generously underwritten by the Attaway Professorships in Civic Culture Program.

About the Meadows Museum of Art

The Meadows Museum of Art is located on the campus of Centenary College of Louisiana at 2911 Centenary Boulevard in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 12-4 p.m. For more information or to schedule fieldtrips, call the Museum at 318.869.5040 or visit centenary.edu/meadows.