On Color and Crisis: Nedret Andre’s Art and Activism

Uprooted, Massachusetts painter Nedret Andre’s latest solo exhibition at Beacon Gallery, demonstrates how an artist can use basic elements—color, line, form, and value—to make incisive, abstract statements that go beyond the realm of pure art.

Uprooted, 2018

“Uprooted” references two related, environmental phenomena. On the one hand, it recalls the wandering proclivities of the European green crab (Carcinus maenas), an invasive species from the Baltic and British Isles that is almost admirable for its ability to adapt to waters around the globe. On the other hand, it draws attention to the rapid depletion of native seagrass beds in New England and beyond, which are literally being uprooted by these crabs. (The global rate of seagrass destruction that Andre cites is 2 football fields an hour.)

This set of circumstances is particularly perilous now as seagrass is a critical component of healthy coastal ecosystems—it captures blue carbon, which otherwise contributes to climate change when released into the atmosphere. Through a sensitive approach to the emotional qualities of color, gesture, pattern, and texture, Andre creates paintings that express a holistic approach to this crisis, meditating on everything from the crabs’ frenetic energy to the desolation of destroyed seagrass beds.

Andre has been developing an abstract approach to this subject for years. “Everything begins with color,” she told me back in the fall of 2016, when I first visited her South End studio to write about a previous solo show, Immersed. This is certainly true of her painting process. Her works are built on patches of azure, lemon, orange, pink, and green that glimmer where they meet. Frail lines, often black, weave through these shifting hues, sometimes elegant and sometimes anxious.

Despite its abstract beauty, Andre’s art tackles a very concrete problem. In the same studio visit, I was fascinated to hear how frequently she participates in fieldwork with marine ecologists and environmental activists. She maintains a blog where, instead of chronicling her studio practice, she posts underwater shots of marine eelgrass (Zostera, a form of seagrass), documents volunteers bagging the green crabs, or summarizes the New England Aquarium lectures she attends. In fact, this March, she joined more than a hundred scientists at Zosterapalooza, an annual eelgrass conference. Whereas many painters list influences in terms fellow artists, Andre cites local scientists: Boston University’s Alyssa Novak, or the Environmental Protection Agency’s Phil Colarusso.

After the Green Crab Arrives, 2018

Immersed was a brilliant show, boasting frequent notes of undiluted ultramarine, fuchsia, and yellow. Recently, Andre expressed dissatisfaction with these “too nice” colors. Is raising awareness about an environmental crisis allowed to be aesthetically pleasing? While her signature blues and yellows are still as vibrant as ever, in Uprooted muted greys, ochers, and whites are introduced with greater frequency, and more paintings are allowed to express anxiety, discomfort, or sadness in their composition. A work like After the Green Crab Arrives is soft and desolate. As Andre states, “The invasive green crab changes the terrain. Leftovers sand, shells, and this new ‘settling in’ begins to happen.” The painting depicts a world in mourning, deprived of seagrass, of strong hues, and of energy.

The Next Stop, 2018

The Next Stop embodies another new approach. This large painting is bursting with energy and vibrant—almost vicious—color. Fuchsia, hot pink, lime green, orange, and bright white marks battle for space, overlapping and confounding one another the way individual tags on a frequently graffitied wall lose legibility. “I wanted to capture the raw energy a green crab has for survival,” Andre explained, while at the same time expressing a desire to create “surface tension and a symbolic seagrass language that is non-legible.” Similarly, the claustrophobic frenzy of angular marks in 160K conveys a mind-boggling fact—each female green crab is capable of producing approximately 160,000 offspring at a time.

As both an advocate and a painter, Andre concerns herself with fluidity and fluctuation. Colors continually shift in brilliance and hue as they move across the canvas, evoking sunlit surfaces, foggy harbors, and dappled shallows. One piece is an ode to the beauty of seagrass. Another is devoted to a green crab’s destructive energy. What remains steadfast is her immediately recognizable sensitivity to color, gesture, and balance. In her lines and luminous washes, Nedret Andre continues to demonstrate both the vitality and the fragility of our coastal ecosystems with a dedication that is truly admirable.

2019 International Juried Show

Beacon Gallery is again doing a call for art for its annual International Juried Show! Appearing at the South End gallery from January 11th through February 24th, the theme of this year’s show is “Analog | Digital”


Analog Digital POSTCARD

Blinking rectangles of various sizes dominate our digital daily lives. Cameras and sensors capture our every move. Networks, algorithms and protocols, document, predict and alter our behavior. Theoretically, human beings are more connected than ever before.

But are we?

While some view the analog to digital transition as a great equalizer and a unifying force, others see it as quite the opposite—a secularizing, divisive means to a lonely, uber-fractionalized society.

Regardless of where you stand on the matter, it is inarguable that the shift from analog to digital has influenced almost every facet of our lives—from how we consume information and exchange goods to how we meet, date, shop, and travel. In virtually every industry and in every home, the analog to digital transition has had a profound impact.

What we want to know is: How has the analog to digital transition impacted you—the artist? How does it make you feel? Cynical or hopeful? Free or confined? Connected or marginalized? How has it affected your work? Has it freed you or constrained you?

In the medium of your choice—painting, mixed media, video, sculpture or photography —Beacon Gallery would like you to explore how the Analog to Digital transformation has impacted your work, your identity, your family, your community, your (metaphorically) “pixelated” view of the world at large.

You are invited to include a poem, a paragraph or an essay to be published along with your artwork explaining your experience, if you wish, as well.

Submissions are open from October 5, to November 30, 2018 via Call For Entry

Guidelines: (see Terms and Conditions on Call for Entry for an exhaustive list)

Competition is open to all artists 18 years and older.

Each artist may submit digital samples of recent original 2D or 3D artworks (artwork must be framed and/or ready to hang (wired or d-rings) or otherwise display) in any medium.

The image submitted must accurately represent the art being submitted.

Video artwork may be submitted.

Artists are responsible for any display needs such as pedestals, etc. unless otherwise arranged with the gallery (NB international artists – please contact gallery regarding shipping display needs for 3D works)

If work is accepted, artists are responsible for shipping costs to and from the gallery.

NB: The gallery is not responsible for any works damaged in transit to/from the gallery or from any damage resulting from poor framing.

A non-refundable fee of $35 entitles the artist to submit up to 5 pieces of artwork for consideration. Only one image per artwork, please.

The gallery may decide to accept any number from zero to all 5 pieces for the show.

You may submit work as NFS but need to submit a price for insurance purposes.

For all sales, Artist-Gallery split is 50%-50%

Submission of your entry is considered acceptance of the terms and conditions of the competition.


For any questions, please email: contact@beacongallery.com

Raquel Fornasaro’s Digital Work

One of Raquel Fornasaro’s digital pieces was featured in “Waging Peace” an exhibit in from May 14 – July 8, 2018, at the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts. After considering over 300 pieces, only 40 artists were chosen to participate.

Below is Raquel’s piece as featured in the exhibition catalog.

R Fornasaro

Even more of Raquel’s digital and oil on canvas work is on view at Beacon Gallery now through the end of September 2018!

Beacon Gallery in the press

Beacon Gallery was delighted to be featured in South Boston Online‘s September 13th issue.

In their article entitled “SOWA Sparkles with Open Studios Approaching” reporter and photographer Richard Campbell reviewed the whole SOWA scene and gave his thoughts on Beacon Gallery’s current show, “Be Here Now.


“I went into the small basement Beacon Gallery first to see a shared show between Raquel Fornasaro and Wendy Shapiro entitled Be Here Now. Christine O’Donnell, the director of the gallery, went through the show with me, detailing how the works were done, and information on the artists. They are two seemingly very different artists who collaborated to create something pretty unique. There is a piece on Le Petit Prince by Fornasaro that I am certain will end up being perfect for some lucky kid’s bedroom, that had as much charm as her quirky animal pictures. Shapiro’s works were more abstract and included some textures that made them stand out from being merely minimalist works. Their collaborative works would be great to bring some texture to the new Seaport buildings.”

South Boston Online IMAGE

Be Here Now Poetry

Poet Matthew Goff was inspired by the works of Raquel Fornasaro and Wendy Shapiro to write two pieces of poetry for our current show, Be Here Now.

Matthew Goff’s work was also part of our poetry-art collaboration “Synaesthesia.”

We’re delighted to be able to feature his work again!



“Terraforming”, Raquel Fornasaro

Protection of sprouting earth

Precious green growth in the cosmos

Separate delicate life, in a field of red dirt

Whirling sky-burst flows by constellations



TechTime Small

“Hear me out”, Raquel Fornasaro + Wendy Shapiro

A breathing-life replaced

Preference for another life

The breathing-life disappears

Enjoyment seems to remain

Both poems: © Matthew Goff 2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



Meet Raquel Fornasaro

Another artist behind Beacon Gallery’s September show, “Be Here Now” is Raquel Fornasaro. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Fornasaro earned a BA in Advertising and Media from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PCU-SP). Fornasaro eventually moved to the United States, where she enrolled in the Fine Arts Program at the Corcoran School of Art & Design in Washington, D.C.

Today, Fornasaro is living in Boston and has pursued her career as an artist in full force.

Fornasaro’s work is unique, to say the least. She believes that, through her work, she shares “a concoction of thoughts about life, religion, and science.”

Raquel’s pieces featured in “Be Here Now” can ultimately be broken up into two categories: digital manipulations, which she calls the “Otherworldly”, and abstract paintings, called “Zoomorphs”. However different, both types explore the logic of perception of the consciousness of man’s place in the universe.

The first category of work, the “Otherworldly”, is a dramatization of myth and reality achieved by a composition of personal photographs, images from the Hubble Telescope, and pictures of Mars’ landscape from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission.

Raquel Fornasaro, Terraforming, Digital Art on Acrylic Print, 24 x  36

The result, according to Fornasaro, is a “futuristic allegory with whimsical aspirations of an idyllic narrative.” With each image, Fornasaro hopes to question the future of our species and its relationship with the cosmos.

Raquel Fornasaro, Arid, Digital Art on Acrylic Print, 24 x 36

Although very different in both technique and subject, Fornasaro’s “Zoomorphs” do still spark the question about man’s place in the universe. These paintings, like “Tree Hugger” pictured below, blur the fine line that separates man and animal, and mention something about the precarious relationship between the two.

Raquel Fornasaro_Tree Hugger
Raquel Fornasaro, Tree Hugger, oil on canvas, 12 x 24

For this series, Fornasaro was inspired by two main sources: the Egyptian gods and the Curupira. On the one hand, the masked characters of “Zoomorphs” are a direct reference to the old Egyptian gods, representing the best in both man and nature. On the other hand, the theme of this series is influenced by the Curupira, or a mythological demonic existence in Brazilian Folklore. The myth is that Curupira preys on poachers and hunters who take more than they need from the forest. In this series, Fornasaro states that “kids take on the roles of Nature’s demonic caretaker gods.”

Raquel Fornasaro, Trophy Hunting, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 

We hope that you will experience and question man’s relationship with the universe yourself at Beacon Gallery in September. “Be Here Now” will be open September 7th – 30th, and will not disappoint.