Artists’ merged visions mirror a need for a shared love of nature

Two local watercolor artists have recreated a collaborative exhibition of their work
painting of ocean creatures
Photo courtesy of the artists

Wanting to inspire people to act on their shared love of nature, two local watercolor artists have recreated a collaborative exhibition of their work.

First displayed in 2015, the exhibition “The Flowers are Burning … Oceans A Rising” by Mary Kay Neumann and Helen Klebesadel returns in time for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with a focus on the effects of climate change on the oceans.

A planned exhibition of the work at Wisdom Monastery in Middleton was canceled due to COVID-19. However a digital gallery is viewable here.

The collection of entirely new work by the artists, plus one older collaboration, is comprised largely of vibrant floral landscapes. Nearly every piece was painted by both women in their studios on Madison’s east side. “They are images that neither one of us could have done alone,” Neumann says.

In addition to merging their visions, the tag-teaming approach reflected the artists’ larger message. “As society faces climate problems, we will have to learn to communicate and collaborate well across our differences. Our working together in this way reflected that belief,” Klebesadel says.

The painters hope “The Flowers are Burning … Oceans A Rising” will help viewers recognize their shared love for the natural world and inspire them to act to save it.

Joel Patenaude is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

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