"Station XI" by Rita Cameron
“Station XI” by Rita Cameron

Staring down at a blank canvas before her, Louisville artist Rita Cameron has no idea what it’ll become. There are no maps, outlines or sketches in her mind, and there are no preconceived notions of what it should be. She simply begins to paint and, more importantly, she listens to what the piece tells her.

Fourteen of Cameron’s new works are included in an exhibit opening at Wayside Expressions Gallery on Friday, Aug. 5. Titled “Stations,” the show is a nod to American abstract painter Barnett Newman, whose “Stations of the Cross” series was regarded as the peak of his career.

It took Cameron more than a year and a half to complete the exhibit, which consists of 2-foot-by-2-foot panel frames of abstract images that tell the story of “Stations of the Cross.” Newman’s series was done in black and white, and he used much larger canvases — 5 by 7 — to convey his ideas.

Cameron tells Insider the challenge of condensing a broad concept into such a small space is what drew her to the project.

“The idea of depicting such a heavy story with such minimalism intrigued me,” she says. “Each piece carries its weight (individually, and as a series). Even if the viewer doesn’t know the storyline, the viewer can be drawn in and engaged on a personal level.”

"Station VI" by Rita Cameron
“Station VI” by Rita Cameron

Each piece of art she makes is a conversation that begins with a blank canvas. She never decided which piece represented what until the entire series was completed.

“I listen to what the painting is telling me as I work on it, and it is that dialogue that guides me to the finished product,” explains Cameron. “I work on several pieces at a time so I don’t get too obsessed with a certain panel. I want each to have its own identity and energy, but not become overworked.”

The exhibit at Wayside will probably be the first — and last — time all 14 pieces will be seen together. Cameron hopes her work will appeal to everyone, without preaching to get her point across: “Even though we all have our commonalities, we are unique individuals who should embrace what makes us special and share our magic with others, even if they don’t understand,” she says.

“Stations” opens Friday, Aug. 5, during the First Friday Hop from 5-8 p.m. It continues through Aug. 28. A second artist reception is planned for Sunday, Aug. 21, from 2-4 p.m. Wayside Expressions Gallery is located inside Hotel Louisville at 120 W. Broadway.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."