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Monday, Oct. 12, 2015

Traveling Spirit

Artist soaks in local arts community

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Artist soaks in local arts community

Artist Sarah Joy Lewis has travelled extensively and credits it with inspiring her art in many ways.

Lewis was born in Reno, Nev., and raised in San Antonio, Texas. However, it was her travel to Europe to spend the summer in France when she was 16, that really solidified her becoming an artist.

“It was a life changing experience,” Lewis said.

“My mother had a friend from France so I was able to spend my 16th summer in a little town called Villard Sur-Bien in the eastern part of France in the district of Jura. It was a town of only about 100 people, but I got to travel from there to Paris where the exposure to the great artists in the great museums inspired me to be an artist. Particularly inspiring were, of course, The Louvre and also the Musee D’Orsay. Viewing art is a very visceral experience.

“Before that trip, I had not thought of being an artist. But by the end of that trip, I was determined and committed to become an artist. To me art is relaxing, peaceful and very cathartic,” Lewis said.

Returning to her life in America, she began pursuing her more formal education by attending first the University of Houston followed by the Commercial College of Denver, always with a focus on art history which became her minor.

Fate would soon intervene with a detour after Lewis met her husband Matthew at a Starbucks in Denver.

He was attending the Air Force Academy and after the couple married more travel ensued as he was posted in Laughlin, Texas and later spent two years in Minot, N.D.

Even while at the University of Houston, Lewis simply fell in love with art with a particular focus on portraiture.

At a museum in Houston she said she was captivated by a female portrait done by the renowned Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. Today, Lewis’ work stay is primarily in the realm of portraiture.

She had her first home studio while living in Minot.

“That was my first experience of having a ‘dedicated space’ for my work,” Lewis said.

After the couple moved to Columbus, Miss., she had a converted attic space to serve as her in-home studio.

Now settled in Shreveport, Lewis converted a two-car garage to serve as her ‘dedicated space’ for her artist studio, adding track lights and bookshelves.

“My studio has its own door, which is terrific because I do a lot of commission work so clients can come and go without having to come through our living space,” Lewis said.

“I really love the challenge of commissions, they take me out of my head. It’s refreshing to approach the art from the client’s perspective.”

Since moving to Shreveport about four years ago, Lewis has been very active in the local art community. She was among the first group of “Pop Up” businesses promoted by Shreveport Regional Arts Council and participated in the “Critical Mass” group show at artspace.

Lewis also participated in the Texas Avenue Makers Fair and the Highland Art Studio tour.

“Throughout my artistic career, travel has been, and remains, a great influence on me. I have been fortunate to travel to Chile, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and back to France several times, and always visiting the great museums as I travel. The beauty of art is an intensely personal experience,” Lewis said.

“One of my high school art teachers told me that wherever I was traveling I should always buy a travelogue, which I always do and I always purchase a catalog of the art shows as I visit museums.”

Lewis has an exhibit entitled “Artists and Airmen” open through Nov. 28 at the Bossier Arts Council Emerging Artist Gallery, located at 630 Barksdale Blvd. in Bossier City.

“[Lewis’s] portraits move beyond the typical depiction of the likeness of a subject to reveal her raw talent and distinctive style. She successfully draws the viewer in through color and rich texture. Each portrait captures the essence of both the subject and artist,” Bridgette Lee, community development coordinator for BAC, said.

–Karl Hasten

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