Cécile Houel, world-renowned artist and Burlington resident, on display at the Washington, Iowa Gallery
French artist and now Burlington resident, Cécile Houel (pronounced “good”) exhibited her art at Art Domestique, 118 S. Iowa Ave., in Washington for the month of October.
She is perhaps best known for her project to paint the portraits of all Nobel Peace Prize laureates. She recently completed her 21st portrait, Cresco, Iowa, from Norman Borlaug. His first portrait was Dr. Martin Luther King. She still has a hundred portraits to do and considers, at 57, the project of a lifetime.
She chooses her laureates at random, does exhausting research on each to determine who they are and why they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She then completed a number of studies in charcoal and / or pencil before painting in oils the final four-by-four-foot portrait. She finds peace there and believes that art can contribute to peace in the world.
100% of its income comes from art and art education. She has a mega studio and a spacious gallery in Burlington which are open to the public by appointment.
In addition to selling art and teaching, Houel also does commission work and has several sponsors and benefactors. (She’s the only completely self-sufficient artist I know of.) And she is emphatically dedicated to her work, passionately believing that she will succeed and succeed. Art is fun for her.
Some of the portraits of Nobel laureates she has made, in addition to Borlaug and King, are Liu Ziaobo, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Andrei Sakharov, Shirin Ebadi, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Barack Obama.
Of course, painting portraits of Nobel Laureates is not her only art, far from it.
Living in Burlington, she travels down the Mississippi River almost every morning, meditates, and collects driftwood, lotus flowers, and a variety of other river treats like corn stalks and floating shoes. (I’m serious.) With driftwood, she makes beautiful and stunning wood carvings. She could decorate the driftwood sculptures with dried lotus flowers painted in gold. She dips the roots of corn stalks in acrylic paint and uses them as paintbrushes to make abstract paintings, even using the tips of driftwood sticks as paintbrushes.
What about the old shoes? Houel made a shoe sculpture with shoes – a large shoe made of shoes. Its title: “All together, we can take a big step”. However, the shoe became so big and heavy that she had to take it apart. Anyone in need of shoes?
His four main areas of art are: his God’s Feet project, the Nobel Peace Prize project, pastels and charcoals, and driftwood sculptures. The God’s Feet project: In order to carry out her spiritual quest, Cécile decided to bring her creativity to “God’s Feet”. She expresses her deepest inspiration on very large scale murals and sculptures on the theme that she calls “the feet of God”, developing multiple ideas around this theme, starting with the four elements Earth, Water , Air and Fire.
Living in the United States for 14 years, Houel has dual French and American nationality. She studied with famous artists, presented shows and received awards around the world. His paintings are exhibited all year round at the Bereskin Gallery in Bettondorf. Houel loves America and says, “There is so much energy and freedom here. She travels back and forth and gives art lessons in France, where she has children and a grandchild, and in the United States.
Following:Cécile Houel from Fort Madison and France runs exhibitions of art by women in the Quad Cities
She will soon be leading classes in Quincy, Illinois, and a one-week pastel workshop in Brittany, France in June 2022, mixing American and French students. For more information, visit its website www.cecilehouel.com.
Visit Art Domestique in Washington and see Cécile Houel’s paintings for yourself.
Curt Swarm is a Mount Pleasant author, columnist, metal sculptor and photographer. you can reach him at (319) 217-0526, email [email protected] or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.