Art Lessons with Beverly Erdreich

I had long been a fan of Alabama artist Beverly Erdreich when I got an assignment to interview her. Funny how things work out that way.

This was for the first issue of Portico Mountain Book, and while this happened a while ago, I’d still like to share the story. You’ll need to scroll to page 54, but I hope you do.

Beverly is known for her beautiful abstracts,

Unmapped Journey by Beverly Erdreich

but a several years ago she started painting differently.

She told me she had always been most intrigued by abstraction but then the wider world invaded her quiet, light-dazzled studio in Mountain Brook, Alabama, and made her look far beyond her treehouse-view of the surrounding woods. Her art took a decidedly different turn with pointed emphasis on subjects like school shootings and AIDS and war and religious turmoil. The result was Metaphor Boxes and Drawings, which depicts some of the most important social and political issues in our modern world in handmade boxes full of found objects and her art.

Beverly told me that working on the box project was cathartic for her. “The point was not really to make a statement about (the issues) but to make people think about things and come to their own conclusions.”

After that she created a self-published children’s book made especially for her own grandchildren. She said it was the hardest thing he had ever done. “I didn’t know the first thing about how to merge illustrations with text. It made painting look really easy.”

The Line That Learned a Lesson began with a Line that wanted to write the names of Erdreich’s granddaughters, but some of the letters in those names required that the inflexible Line learn to bend.

“The Line is, by nature, ridged,” Erdreich said. “But then there are all these things it wants to do but can’t because it won’t bend. We can’t expand and learn new things if we can’t change. The Line ends up finding out it can change but still be true to oneself.”


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