The piney woods of East Texas had a profound impact on the art of Russ Havard, born in Lufkin in 1971, who now creates paintings and collages featuring the trees of East Texas as symbols of our inner and outer lives.
Havard’s works are simple yet complex, exploring the intersection between nature and our conceptions of it, as expressed in thoughts and dreams. They depict the synchronous effect of humans on nature and the enduring, symbolic influence nature has on our lives.
“The process of endless building and re-configuring transcends the physical, and encompasses the symbolic,” he said.
The artist combines shapes with mixed media to display concepts such as time and space. Using watercolors, Havard constructs images on paper and wood then uses a razor to deconstruct them and arrange them as collages that he calls “constructed landscapes.” He casts the collages onto built shapes that allow our minds to visualize them in new ways.
The collages take on a sculptural form, sometimes popping out of a flat wall or surface. The collage titled “Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” for example, casts dawn and sunset onto opposite ends of a concave structure that emphasizes the continuous passage of time.
Havard resides in Nacogdoches, where he teaches fine arts at Stephen F. Austin State University. His works are featured in galleries nationwide, mainly in Michigan, New Mexico, New York and Los Angeles.