September 30, 2023—January 28, 2024

Abandon in Place: The Worlds of Anna Audette

  • Please note: the Museum & Café will be closed Wednesday, June 19 in observance of Juneteenth.
This exhibition has been made possible by the generous support of CT Humanities, the Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts, HSB, The Aeroflex Foundation, The David T. Langrock Foundation, Mrs. Kathryn Parsons and Mr. J. Geddes Parsons, Mr. Wayne Harms and Mrs. Barbara Harms, Mr. and Mrs. Jeb Embree, as well as donors to the Museum’s Annual Fund.

Connecticut artist Anna Held Audette (1938–2013) discerned loveliness in decay, creating large oil paintings of the disused factories, machines, and scrapyards that are America’s ruins. Her works reference the arc of America’s ascendance and decline as a manufacturing titan, a process that transformed our environment through the extraction of resources and the deposit of waste. The often considerable scale of Audette’s works, and their depiction of rusting machines in the workshops or fields in which they were made and used, position her compositions somewhere between landscape, still life, and abstraction.

Audette’s art reveals the landscapes Americans have created and consumed over the history of the industrial era with our appetite for making new things, then casting them off. Her poetic images find radiant color and mesmerizing forms in unfamiliar, and at times disconcerting, locales where the artist serves as our avatar in approaching behemoth models. Audette defied expectations for women artists that lingered well into the 20th century, embracing inhospitable, even hazardous, subjects that included decommissioned ships, airplanes, and even space launch sites—all marvels of 20th-century engineering and the ambition to explore, conquer, and control.

Mourning waste and the decline of industrial might, Audette nevertheless perceived both transcendent humanity and ingenuity vested in the crafted objects and spaces that caught her eye. Her attention to the making and unmaking of the industrialized landscape could not be timelier, as is her contemplation of humankind’s detritus in an era when the environment has reached a state as precarious as Audette’s masses of scrap metal.

Learn more about Anna's life and work on her official website
  • My paintings comment on the melancholy beauty found in relics of our industrial past.

    — Anna Held Audette

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