In A New Exhibit, Artists Draw Inspiration From Arizona’s Changing Landscape

Jan 22, 2016

Many artists are inspired by the beauty of the desert Southwest, but Emily and Matthias Düwel also see something happening to that landscape. Their paintings reflect themes of environmental change and a call for sustainability.

When the Düwels moved from New York City to a small community near Tucson in 2004, this also marked a shift in their art.

Both were accustomed to painting man-made structures, settings busy with movement and night scenes full of artificial light.

Emily Düwel said the couple began searching for new sources of inspiration in rural Arizona.

“The Sonoran desert has a completely different landscape to almost anywhere else, nearly, on the planet,” Emily said. “And one is constantly surprised in very different ways.”

Emily calls the terrain beautiful and hostile. With pops of blue, water kept creeping into her work. Slashes of grey concrete intersect her canvas at times.

For Matthias, he began to focus on where sprawl meets the desert. He paints destruction and excess in complex, stark, black-and-white.

“We’re basically destroying the landscape with more and more really cheaply-built, paper-cut houses,” Matthias said. “So I started working about that, with development in the desert and how development kind of messes up nature.”

You can see the Düwels’ exhibit, “Disturbed Terrain,” at the Arizona Western College art gallery until Feb. 11.