Jun 142013

Anne Francey

“Nature is a temple in which living columns sometimes emit confused words. Man approaches it through forests of symbols, which observe him with familiar glances.”

Charles Baudelaire


Anne Francey considers her artwork the visual equivalent of a diary, where spontaneous jottings of all kinds of events sketch the fabric of life. She often uses nature as a point of departure, freely oscillating between representation and abstraction in order to reveal a deeper meaning. Born in Switzerland, Anne is bilingual, speaking French as fluently as English. Adept at the artistic language of metaphor as well, Anne welcomes the unpredictable and revels in moments when she has control of what’s being shown and what’s being hidden. I met Anne in the years I worked in an art gallery at Skidmore College, where she teaches part time; or before that – at a regional arts center in downtown Saratoga Springs, through which Anne exhibited and received grants to conduct marvelous, progressive art workshops for children. Many have long admired her love of nature, commitment to her craft, thirst for knowledge, and involvement with the community and next generation. These forces recently fused with profound strength, when her daughter, Suleika Jaouad, developed leukemia. Her response, in part, when at times she could do nothing else at all, was a daily painting project titled Cariatide de Papier.                                                                                               

— Mary Kathryn Jablonski


A propos de “Cariatide de Papier”

C’est  d’un journal de bord personnel, voire intime, qu’il s’agit. Chaque semaine, une nouvelle image aquarelle sur papier format carré. Assemblés, ces jours en carré forment colonne, cariatide légère porteuse d’une période lourde de 36 semaines de temps difficiles.

Chez les anciens Grecs, la cariatide était une statue de pierre porteuse d’une masse architecturale. Sur l’espace  du mur qui sépare et rapproche ciel et terre, cette Cariatide de Papier  composée de  36 carrés sur lesquels s’inscrivent en couleurs l’oiseau dans tous ses états et l’éléphant forcé hors de sa force,  réfléchit à  l’équilibre précaire entre l’endurance et la fragilité de l’être humain face à sa propre mortalité.

D’où vient la force quand la gravité nous lâche, quand ce qui nous soutient nous est enlevé ? Quand l’oiseau tombe et l’éléphant perd pied ? Quand l’éléphant ne pèse que plume et l’oiseau en oublie sa légèreté?

—Anne Francey


Cariatide de papier

It began as a diary. Each week, I would paint my days on a square piece of watercolor paper, reflecting on events in my life that were both too personal and too large to evoke with words.

Now assembled, these squares form a column, a light caryatid bearer of a period laden with thirty-six difficult weeks.

In Ancient Greece, a Caryatid was a sculpted female figure that supported an architectural mass, the entablature of a temple.

Placed on a wall, a space that separates and connects sky and earth, this “Cariatide de Papier” reflects on the precarious equilibrium between human endurance and fragility when facing mortality. It is composed of thirty-six colorful squares portraying all kinds of birds in different states of mind, and various elephants whose force is being challenged.

Where does strength come from when gravity lets go of us, when what supports us is taken away from us?

When birds fall and elephants loose their footing?

When an elephant is no heavier than a feather and a bird forgets its lightness?

—Anne Francey


 Complete Work, Floor to Ceiling



 Detail Images








  —Anne Francey

See also:

From NY Times Blog – Life Interrupted, A Family Gets Cancer – Video of Anne & her family.

Daughter Suleika Jaouad’s NY Times Blog – Life Interrupted.


Anne Francey was born in Switzerland where she studied painting at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Lausanne, before moving to New York where she received an MFA from Hunter College. She now lives in Saratoga Springs, NY, where she has her art studio, teaches, and has been involved in creating community ceramic murals throughout the capital region. In addition to drawing and painting, she developed an interest in ceramics during her travels in Tunisia, and has incorporated the ceramic mediums into her practice.





  2 Responses to “Cariatide de Papier: Watercolor Diary by Anne Francey — Introduced by Mary Kathryn Jablonski”

  1. These are very beautiful. I would love to hear at more length about what is represented in each.

  2. Thank you. The inspiration was mostly birds and elephants, which I was drawn to not only metaphorically, but also for their various shapes, colors and configurations. All of it resonated for me, often on a subconscious level, with various events and states of mind .

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