by Chenoa Baker
Exchange is “an act of giving one thing and receiving another (especially of the same type or value) in return” for the goal of reciprocity, multi-sided conversation, central place for cross-pollination in the [arts] ecosystem. This editorial series translates a think tank of art and people into writing about artists, activists, and artpreneurs we encounter.
Anya Leveille: Art That Moves The Heart
Anya Leveille, an artist represented by Beacon Gallery, breathes life into the arts through bold color, abstracted scenes inspired by our natural environment. She makes evocative abstracts made from oil, cold wax, and digital media. Talismanist Giebra, a philosopher of Fragmentism writes, “Life is an abstract art, and it’s up to you to make sense of it.” The form of the artwork reveals deeper sensations about life. This quote bears to mind the differences between rendering which is a visual translation of what is seen and an artist’s interpretation. A translation relies only on the visual sense and is often too exacting to represent the abstract realities of our world today. However, an artist’s interpretation unlocks visual language yet to be found and transcends what is seen to move the heart. This is precisely what Leveille does within her work.
“Leveille has been one of Beacon Gallery’s best-selling artists, with many patrons immediately drawn to the bright colors of her cold wax abstractions. Her work helps to embody a Beacon Gallery core value: “art is for everyone.” Between her visual allure, and her variety of sizes available to all budgets, Leveille’s work has caught the eye of both first-time and seasoned collectors,” says Christine O’Donnell, Founder and Director of Beacon Gallery.
Abstraction Is A Feeling
Associate Curator, Chenoa Baker is drawn to this work because of the interplay of colors, the accumulation of layers and texture, and the repetition that creates a jazzy rhythm. In the house she grew up in, there was a print that depicted African dancers that were lined up in a row and there was only a white background to focus on their movement.
Anya Leveille’s work has the same sensibility because it is as she describes it, “energy, light, life. Movement and gestural marks fill the abstract forms of the dancers, surrounded by the warmth of the sun.” The palpable texture is achieved through “using crushed shells, multimedia and sand with vibrant colours are reminiscent of layered and patterned fabric swirling around joyful figures.” Lastly, its feature of being “built up over time, creates a rich narrative of mark making, sculpture tools are used to rediscover the history in an almost archeological style.”
Forest Curtain transports the viewer and sets the scene: “Mist gathers slowly at the edge of the forest, cool and green. The staggering magnitude of the inner forest, ancient trees towering overhead, all around, sticks and leaves crunching beneath your feet. Through the mist you can see the great expanse, all around, softly veiled.” This meditative work is an invitation to “take a moment, feel the coolness of it against your skin, and breathe in. Delicate veils of color are created using a variety of thin layering techniques using transparent papers pressed onto canvas in various transfer presses.”
“The salt spray on your skin, the wildness of the scenery and sound of the waves now forever a part of you,” Leveille says. Notice how there is an interplay of colors within the blue and the horizontal movement that is suggestive of wind. This is a unique take on landscapes by abstracting them, condenses them down to their feeling and essence. A variety of tools make the “delicate and firm gestures.” This form of “liberated mark making, combined with sweeps of textured paint, invoke wild and untamed expression.”
Learn more about Anya Leveille’s work at Beacon Gallery.
About the Artist
Anya Leveille (she/her) creates multi-dimensional paintings that are abstract expressions of visual forms, atmospheres and environments. She attended Laguna College of Art and Design in Southern California, discovering a great affinity for texture in painting and multimedia. She began working full time on developing these techniques, and showing in galleries nationwide. In 2019 her work was showcased in Honest Thief, a film starring Liam Neeson. In 2022 her work was chosen to be shown in the American Embassy in Austria, as part of a representation of American artists.
Her work is not photographic representation, but sensory; using a slow layering process combined with aggressive archeology such as cutting, digging and scratching. Subtle movements, ephemeral layering of color and expressive textures evoke the spiritual awakening in body and mind that are the essence of revelation and discovery. The layering process advances over time, then is removed using various methods and tools. Being nearly ‘archeological’ in nature; building up layers of color, material, and varying techniques in texture to achieve interest and depth. Her capture of the moment allows viewers the joy of their own exploration of self.
Chenoa Baker (she/her) is a curator, wordsmith, and descendant of self-emancipators. Art spaces as incubators for intergroup dialogue and imaginative portals were her foray into curatorial work. In addition to leading the exhibition program as the Associate Curator at Beacon Gallery, she worked on: Gio Swaby: Fresh Up at the Peabody Essex Museum; Simone Leigh at ICA/Boston; Simone Leigh: Sovereignty at the 59th La Biennale di Venezia; and Touching Roots: Black Ancestral Legacies in the Americas at MFA/Boston. Her autobiographical-style art criticism appears in Public Parking, Material Intelligence, Studio Potter, Boston Art Review, Sixty Inches From Center, Burnaway, and a monograph contribution for Helena Metaferia: Generations, Art For This Moment.