My Blue Heaven by Susan Bee

Art of the Week

Visual art is just as often an opportunity to “escape” the real world as it is a reflection or distillation of the things happening around us. It has a hypnotizing power to illustrate imagined stories and worlds and plant them into the minds of viewers as realities.

“My Blue Heaven,” an exhibition of multimedia on linen by Susan Bee at Belmont University’s Leu Art Gallery, is a storybook manifestation of this power. With bright, collaged colors; simple forms; and a combination of fantastic and banal scenes, Bee’s work is a pleasant (if challenging and personal) escape from the everyday.

“She carves vignettes from the fabric of life and creates dramatic images from the peak moments of imagined narratives,” according to a release from the gallery. “These include the idyllic reveries of landscapes, that romantic image of the self and psyche tossed by the fates and colorful still life scenes.”

In the eponymous work for the exhibition, Bee presents a bright and soothing landscape, with two intimate figures in the foreground. It does evoke the climax of a fantasy tale, even if the context is not explicit. While the image is positive and simple, it tugs at the viewer’s own inner self.

Bee is based in Brooklyn and has been active since the early ’80s. Her visual art has been exhibited widely but she may be most prolific for her artist’s books, of which she has published sixteen. She has collaborated extensively with poets and was the co-editor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G, an online literary and art journal. The print version of the M/E/A/N/I/N/G archive has been collected at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Belmont University’s Leu Art Gallery is located in the Lila D. Bunch Library, 1907 Belmont Boulevard.

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