Art exhibit features work of military spouse duo
Annastasha Larsen, left, and Marie Martelly stand in front of one of the pieces on display at the Ann Rudd Art Gallery in Ozark.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 23, 2012) -- For Annastasha Larsen and Marie Martelly, this show is personal.

Every piece of art tells a story. Larsen's work tells of places she has lived and how many times she has moved. Martelly's art combines everything from elements of her childhood to a literal representation of a training plane her husband was flying when she painted the canvas.

The work of the two Fort Rucker Air Force spouses is on display at the Ann Rudd Art Center in Ozark. The show, entitled "Pieces," runs now through March 10. The public is invited to a reception, including live music by local group Holly and Brantley, at the gallery Feb. 25 from 7-9 p.m.

Larsen has a bachelor's in studio art from Brigham Young University. Her specialty is painting, but for the Ozark show, she experimented with sculpture and mixed media pieces.

Martelly completed two years at the U.S. Air Force Academy, but then transferred to McGill University in Montreal where she completed a degree in art history. Her art is based on small collages she creates and then paints on a much larger scale.

"This exhibit is a feast for the eyes offering bold color, thought provoking assemblages and a touch of whimsy," Carol Luckfield, president of the Dale County Council of Arts and Humanities, said. "We are pleased that we have the opportunity to connect with military spouses who are willing to share their artistic talent through exhibitions and volunteer work in our gallery,"

Though Larsen and Martelly each have a lifetime of experiences and inspiration to draw from, they both say their time as military spouses has influenced their work.

Larsen's love for art began as a child. She did arts and crafts projects with her mom in California. She started taking art classes in high school and continued through college. Since that time, she has lived in Utah, Mississippi and Alabama. She and her husband are expecting moves to North Carolina and then to New Mexico.

At each new place, Larsen finds new inspiration. At her home in California, it was wildfires. In Alabama, she has been drawn to the clouds, farmland and old buildings. "You just can't recreate that look," she said.

One of her favorite pieces in the show features the "look" she was talking about. At the last place she and her husband were stationed, she often wandered through a field behind their house where some older buildings had been torn down. As she walked, she collected pieces of the remaining weathered wood flooring and eventually put the pieces together for the show in Ozark.

The finished piece reminds her of time and aging and a place she once called home.

"I feel like this series really developed because I'm a military wife. It's about home and it's about Family and what that means to me. I don't think I thought of that very much until I was away from my Family and moving all the time. It's experiencing these different places and figuring out what makes my house a home," said Larsen.

In Martelly's time as an Air Force spouse, she hasn't lived anywhere longer than eight months. For her, it's a challenge to start fresh at each new place.

"It's hard to get rooted into an art community when you're there such a short period of time," she said. "I'm excited to get to stay in one place for three years and maybe have a bit more time to work my way into a community. But that's also what's so exciting. Every new place you go will have different opportunities and different art communities and different people."

Martelly is looking forward to seeing how each viewer interprets the images she created. While she doesn't start a project with a theme in mind, a theme usually emerges as she works. But, she points out, the collages will mean something different to every single person who looks at them.

Many of the images she uses, such as cows and pennies, will be familiar to most viewers. But one image in particular may stand out to the Aviation community. Martelly started a painting a collage that included an image of an airplane, but as she painted she substituted a T-6 training plane because it's what her husband was flying at the time.

"It reminded me of everything we went through during that part of pilot training," she said.

Martelly showed the painting, called "Imagine," at an art gallery in Del Ray, Texas. She remembers many of her Air Force friends commenting on the piece because they immediately recognized the image.

"They all related to that," she said.

Larsen and Martelly have no definite plans to continue working together, but the Air Force helicopter community is small and the two are open to working together again if they are the same base. Both artists are certain they will continue to pursue their careers in art.

For more information about the artists and the gallery, visit www.ruddartcenter.com.

Page last updated Thu February 23rd, 2012 at 00:00