Stillness with Ysabel LeMay
Ysabel LeMay revels in nature’s beauty, paying tribute to it with her artwork. LeMay is a Texas-based visual artist who uses hypercollage to make what she calls “Wonderful Other Worlds” (also called W.O.W). To create these worlds, LeMay begins with a single emotion, image, or pigment, photographs an array of plants and animals, then incorporates elements from an assortment of the photos into one dynamic image. In this piece, titled Stillness, LeMay welcomes us into her “Wonderful Other World,” wherein a breathtaking tree towers over us, overwhelming us with its magnificence.
Our attention is immediately drawn to the tree, rather than the town and the lights behind it, emphasizing the importance of the natural world rather than the man-made one. LeMay’s decision to focus on the natural world is her assertion that feelings of serenity provided by nature subdue any feelings evoked by purely man-made environments. As we look closer at the tree, we see that it is more than a single type of tree. Where leaves would normally be, there are flowers with different shapes, leaves and stems from different plants, and more. We realize that the tree is a forest of its own, containing an entire environment in its branches.
The forest in the branches is draped in white snow; it must be winter—the season associated with stillness and death. Regardless, we see flowers blooming towards the base of the tree’s crown, and a variety of non-flowering plants flourishing throughout the tree. This image is full of life and movement in the dead of winter, reflecting nature’s incontestable capacity for harboring life despite the environment. Unlike LeMay’s image, the never-ending movement of the man-made world—flooding of deadlines, due dates, bills, budgets, and responsibilities which dictate people’s lives—causes anxiety. The true stillness mentioned in the title of the piece is within the viewers. This alternate universe, abundant with peaceful life, provides an escape from civilization and evokes an inner solace. With her wonderful other world, LeMay solidifies nature’s greatness by granting us an opportunity to enter this serene environment and to experience nature’s impact from within.
How does this piece make you feel?