The Central Texas College (CTC) Fine Arts department announced a new art exhibit will open Monday, February 3 in the upstairs art gallery of the campus library. “Southern Peculiar” features the paintings of Austin-Based artist Heidi Pitre. An award-winning artist, Pitre earned best of show honors at the 2019 Webster’s Art Works on Paper competition in St Louis, MO, named a 2019 top 10 finalist in the Austin Artboards and won the best of show award at the Inaugural Show at the Cedars in Jackson, MS in 2012.
"Southern Peculiar" includes an array of oil paintings and charcoal drawings providing an exposure of Southern anthropology through the artist's particular and thoroughly native perspective. Originally from New Orleans, LA, Pitre resides in Austin and calls Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and sometimes Colorado as home. She says the exhibit examines the South and its people in all their peculiar wonder. “The paintings reflect the ‘Sunday afternoon’ south: colorfully painted, depicting heartwarming scenes with a twist that’s all too familiar, even odd or absurd, but lighthearted and funny,” said Pitre. “That’s the side of the South we want you to see.”
Pitre added, “Other works examine a deeper more raw version of the South, the side we don’t show to just anybody. These works, focusing on the South with its flaws exposed, represent the recognition of its blisters and scars. This emotional interpretation highlights both aspects in a way that will create a deeper understanding of ‘us’ for insiders and outsiders, helping to embrace our complex absurdity – our Southern peculiar.”
In addition to the southern element, Pitre’s work often depicts a collection of short stories sharing messages from the perspective of different women. Her art is also a self-exploration of images collected throughout her lifetime: childhood memories, vintage advertising themes or comments on women she has absorbed or rejected.
“These women understand what it means to be a floundering mother, an awkward daughter, an exhausted housewife, a scorned lover,” said Pitre. “These feminine characters prove that every woman can embrace her own reality, laugh at her tragedies, spotlight her bed decisions, expose her vulnerabilities and choose to exchange pain or sadness for a new understanding of the past.”
Pictured: "Blessed" from Heidi Pitre's "Southern Peculiar" exhibit
A meet-the-artist reception will be held Thursday, February 6 from 4 to 5 p.m. in the CTC library art gallery. Both the reception and exhibit are free and open to the public. “Southern Peculiar” will be on display through April 7.