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Gallery Artist: Coral Bourgeois

artist's statement

In 1976, I moved to New York and quickly became part of the downtown art scene. I exhibited drawings and paintings in group and solo shows. Then I took a detour that ultimately led me to the process that underlies my current work. I got into jewelry in the early 80s, when lots of artists were making “art” jewelry. My first line involved paint, beads, and epoxy resin, which became the foundation of my later work.

I made jewelry reflecting my favorite genres: Classical, Islamic, Renaissance, Pop, Landscape — anything and everything. I did trade shows, was featured in magazines, but I was never a fashion designer; I was an artist making jewelry. I thought, Why not take this process I’ve developed and apply it to tile?

This leant itself to murals, brought me back to my art origins and gave me a new audience: architects and interior designers. I was commissioned to do a 13’ by 9’ piece for the Loew’s Hotel in New Orleans. It captured the essence of the city — its history, its people, its landscape and music. I combined maps, architecture, street life, graveyards, patterns.

In 2007, I did a piece for Boston’s Liberty Hotel (formerly the Charles Street jail). When you walk in, you ride the escalator right past my 19’ mural. I used mug shots of former prisoners, handcuffs, fingerprints, and clocks to evoke confinement and the role of time, to acknowledge what took place within those notorious walls.

My current piece has taken me full circle, back to the layering process of my jewelry, but I’ve expanded in scope and scale. It’s a 13’ by 9’ mosaic — an entirely invented underwater world, an aquatic vision — full of motion, schools of fish spanning multiple tiles, beads, coral, fish on top of fish, darting through marine fauna past sea anemones. Acetate doilies are my interpretation of jellyfish. Mirrors accentuate bubbles. The entire piece is collaged with varying thicknesses. The color is acid trip vibrant, the perspective kaleidoscopic. This densely populated sea city has traffic patterns, monuments, structures, and non-stop action. For me the world is visual and tactile and fast.