Victoria Lowe was born in 1947 in Birmingham, Alabama. She was focused on art from an early age, and always found ways to work on independent projects through her elementary and high school years. She entered the University of Alabama at seventeen and received her BS in education in 1969. In undergraduate and graduate school, Lowe felt like she found a new family in the art department.
Two professors became her mentors – Melville Price, who played an important role in the Abstract Expressionist movement in New York, and Howard Goodson, who was instrumental in the style’s regional influence. Both revered Hans Hoffman as an artist and a teacher, patterning their classes after his method of eliciting creative expression from the students. Lowe was encouraged to find her own path as an artist, and this became a model for her own teaching at Florida Southern College and Florida Polytechnic University.
In the art department, Lowe and her fellow students were exposed to new developments in art, including the main camps of Abstract Expressionism, Action Painting and Color Field painting. She cites artists who “inspired deep emotional responses” during her early years – Turner, Monet, Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhart, Rothko, and Olitski. James Turrell is a contemporary artist who is particularly important for Lowe, for his sensitive use of light and space. Another important influence has been travel and the art and archeology of Mexico, ancient Egypt, and Europe. Lowe has described her experience as a child gazing through a telescope at the stars in the night sky - the sense of mystery, beauty, and connectedness she felt continues to inspire her art. She cites her experience meditating, initiated in childhood, as giving her access to the inner space evoked in her paintings.
In graduate school at the University of Alabama, Lowe focused on painting, receiving her MS in Visual Arts in 1971. Spray painting emerged as her primary technique while still in school and after her move to Washington, DC, where she lived from the 1970s until 2006 when she moved to Lakeland, FL. In Washington she was a member of a performance art group lead by international artist, Marta Minujiin, that appeared at the Museum of Modern Art, NY Avant Garde Festival, and galleries in New York and Wash, DC.
During the 1970s, Lowe produced the spray painting series, Ener-Area and Ener-Space, which focus on shifting, atmospheric fields inflected by colored coronas. The Ener-Section Series of the 1980s features abstract gateways to pictorial space. Early in 1990s the spray enamel technique presents health issues which triggers minimising spray by working smaller and on paper. By the 2000s, the artist focuses on painted collages and drawings composed of lines and gestural elements in pastel and graphite. In the Mind-Space Series, she switches from spray enamel to spray acrylic and introduces lines and spheres moving across the surface. Sequences of smaller canvases or drawings together form a single work, extending Lowe’s explorations of energy and the emotive experience of color that she has pursued over the past four decades.
Lowe’s solo exhibitions:
Current and Upcoming - The Museum of Arts and Science, Macon, GA, Dec 2017- Apr 2018; The Quincy Art Center, Quincy, IL, 2018; The Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science and Art, Sep-Dec 2019.
Past - The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; The Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA; The Hardin Center for the Arts, Gadsden, AL; Platform Art Forum and Florida Southern College, Lakeland, FL; The White House, Washington, DC; and Cramer Gallery, Washington, DC.
Selected group exhibitions include -
Art Palm Springs, Kavachina Contemporary, Palm Springs, CA; Art Basel/Art Miami, Red Dot Fair; Miami, FL; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, FL; Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL; and the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL.
Over the past four decades, the paintings and drawings have focused primarily on atmospheric surfaces and gradations of color. In the earlier works, sprayed enamel was used to create abstract fields activated by coronas of color. In the later paintings in sprayed acrylic, lines at the edges of a canvas create an abstract gateway to an expanse of illuminated space. Recent works employ lines and shifting color moving across multiple panels or sheets of paper that together create one large piece.
The process of making these works is unconscious and intuitive, with each appearing in the artist’s mind in full detail before they are executed. The progress is deliberate in terms of the application of up to fifty layers of sprayed paint, with the goal of evoking the essence of a color. The tiny particles of pigment act like pixels, interacting with adjacent hues to create new, subtle colors and a sense of depth.
Consistent though this body of work is a concern with energy in its many forms and the viewer’s deep emotional response to color. The paintings have their origin in the artist’s childhood experience of stargazing and the feeling of sublime connectedness to things beyond the physical environment and conscious comprehension.
The desire to relive that feeling inspires her to create these painted atmospheres. They are free of narrative or subject matter, and like poetry offer the viewer a door through which they may enter to experience the depth of their own imagination.