Abstract botanicals by Meredith Pardue

If you were struck by the Opener pages in DECO’s #GreenIssue, that would be thanks to the intriguing artworks of Meredith Pardue. Pardue is an acclaimed contemporary artist based in Austin, Texas whose work is widely recognized for its abstract botanical forms and scenes derived from nature.

Opener pages with Pardue artworks as seen in DECO's Green Issue on shelf now
Opener pages with Pardue artworks as seen in DECO’s Green Issue, on shelf now

Pardue’s work has been exhibited worldwide and has been published in a variety of periodicals, now including ELLE Decoration South Africa. In the Green issue, we were knee-deep exploring sustainability in design and are still as mad as ever for transparency and glassware; Meredith’s artworks could not have been a more perfect representative of all this for our Opener pages. DECO asked Meredith to share with us a little more about herself and her work. We particularly appreciated some real gems in response to ‘Advice you would give your younger self in Art school?’

Be innovative.  Work hard, and be relentless.  Or go do something else—because forging a career as an artist is not for the faint of heart.


Your studio space is…

A sacred space.

Specific rituals to prepare for new work or exhibitions?

Declutter studio, clean up work area, brushes, refresh solvents.  Determine canvas sizes, order canvases and supplies.

Is the majority of your work inspired by nature?

Yes, at least as a point of departure.  I strive to capture specific moments of time in flux, which is most boldly pronounced in nature.  Be it the course of a human life from beginning to end, the forming and breaking apart of a storm, or the flowering and withering of an orchid—there are endless cycles of becoming and unbecoming, of growth and decay.  I am compelled to take my own observations and experiences apart —ones both sublime and inglorious—and put them back together in a different way, with the intention of doing so in my internal aesthetic language of beauty.  I extract singular, specific moments of time as they exist in their native universal, public states, and re-present them by transforming these extracted “snapshots” of natural cycles into sites of private knowledge.  I want the viewer to identify him/herself with these universal, eternal themes and with the divinity that lies at the very core of their creation and existence.

The Star in the Estuary: 60” x 48” ink, oil, & graphite on canvas, 2015
The Star in the Estuary: 60” x 48” ink, oil, & graphite on canvas, 2015

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

These words from artist and McArthur Fellow Teresita Fernández:

 “Being an artist is not just about what happens when you are in the studio. The way you live, the people you choose to love and the way you love them, the way you vote, the words that come out of your mouth, the size of the world you make for yourselves, your ability to influence the things you believe in, your obsessions, your failures — all of these components will also become the raw material for the art you make.”

“That hunger, that desire for success is nothing more than a fear of failure… And the odd thing is that when you are actually succeeding, it tends to be quiet and comes always quite unannounced and without a lot of fanfare. You will, in fact, be the only person who ever really grasps or recognizes the internal successes. The work of the work is visible only to yourself.”

What are the main positives and negatives of working in an Artistic role?

The very nature of being an artist is premised on creating something that was not there before, for no reason other than s/he must.  Failures are an integral part of an artist’s practice—which is both humbling and gratifying—so it requires bravery and throwing caution and fear to the wind.

Are the Arts well supported in Austin?

There are some excellent public and private visual art institutions and organizations here—The Austin Museum of ArtThe Blanton Museum at The University of Texas, The Center for Mexican-American Cultural ArtsThe Contemporary,  Laguna GloriaWomen and Their Work—but I would say overall the visual arts do not have a strong enough presence in Austin.  There are very few commercial art galleries here, which is surprising because there are lot of artists living and working in Austin and the Texas Hill Country—a lot of very good artists.  I would love to see these artists’ work exhibited and collected in Austin and to see the visual arts become more relevant to our local public.  The city is growing very rapidly, and I suspect in the coming years we will see more commercial galleries and exhibition venues pop up around the city.

Wings Flutterering Oceanside: 60” x 48” ink, oil, & graphite on canvas, 2015
Wings Flutterering Oceanside: 60” x 48” ink, oil, & graphite on canvas, 2015

Top 3 major influences on your work?

MEMORY:  The romantic, seductive, delusory lies and facts from memory weave stories both true and false, and possess a power so great that it often overwhelms our consciousness.

CHANGE:  This is where I find freedom and invigoration.  Change makes me feel alive.

CONNECTION:  Through nature, through human relationships, through my work.

Top 3 artistic icons of all time?

Alberto Giacometti:  I learned about line and how it establishes form by studying his paintings and drawings, especially those where the lines extend beyond the boundaries of the figures into space.
Cy Twombly:  His primal mark-making and irreverence to the boundaries of the canvas speak straight to my soul.  I also love the mythological aspect of his work, which plays is in perfect concert with the passion and drama of the marks themselves.
Peter Paul Reubens:  His undulating compositions and the exaggerated musculature of his figures influenced the movement within my own forms and compositions.  I would say the same for the sculpture of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa in particular, although the drama lies more in the deep folds of the fabric and postures of the figures…

I guess I am a sucker for the Italians.

Favorite words to live by?

Tomorrow is another day.

 Floratheria VI: 30” x 22” ink, oil, & graphite on canvas, 2015
Floratheria VI: 30” x 22” ink, oil, & graphite on canvas, 2015

Advice you would give your younger self in art school?

If I could speak to my younger self (and to my children, who both want to be artists when they grow up), I would say:

Create your work with passion, with ferocity, and do so from a place that is yours and yours alone.  Take elements that speak to you from those whose work you admire, take it from the world around you, TAKE it, and make it YOURS.  Do it again.  And again.  Work for it.  Then work harder.  Fail.  Get up.  Do it again.  Work, work, work.  It is not easy, and it is not fast.  Do it anyway.  Put in the thousands of hours.  Put yourself at risk.  If you don’t, then you are not being innovative.  Someone will always be better than you.  That is ok.  You are not here to compete or compare yourself with others.  You are here to find your own way.  Be innovative.  Work hard, and be relentless.  Or go do something else—because forging a career as an artist is not for the faint of heart.

Save money early on in your life, and take advantage of your youth and of compound interest.  Invest small amounts of money monthly throughout your college years and into your twenties, and you will have much more financial security later in your life without having to put out the money—freeing yourself from a stifling existence of working a job you dislike, freeing up your time to create.   Live below your means.  You do not have to live in NYC or a big city to be a successful artist.

Do not compromise your work based upon what is trendy.  Keep your ego in check.  Travel—make it a priority, especially in your twenties.  You do not have to have a lot of money to see the world, and nothing opens your mind and enhances your perspective like traveling to new places.  Read.  Visit museums.  Educate yourself.  You will never “arrive.”  What you imagine or hope will be your greatest achievement or peak experience will probably be anticlimactic.  Most of your true successes will happen privately.  It is easy to be free in your twenties, but it gets more challenging as you get on in your life and your responsibilities increase, as you have a family—stay your course.  Be kind. Give thanks. Dream big. The world is truly your oyster.


Meredith Pardue Studio

LIKED THIS? Then you’ll love these other Artist’s Profiles on Janneke Luursema and Karin Nussbaumer

ELLE Decoration Green Issue coverIN THE GREEN ISSUE ON SHELF NOW
The Green Issue edition of ELLE Decoration South Africa will be on the shelf of your nearest magazine retailer from 28 September. Packed with sustainably stylish interiors, it’s full of all your favourite features and decor tips plus the green spaces of Patrizia Moroso and Pietro Russo. Order your copy today – across South Africa wherever magazines are sold – and tell us what you think on Twitter @ELLE_Deco, sharing your #GreenIssue #DECOselfie.