Fish Girl
Artist Ann Rudd

By Lisa Stephens Rahn • Photography by Brian W. McDonald

There are few local artists whose long-standing presence in the Wiregrass goes unmatched, their name recognition extending well beyond the art community and their personal fan base, permeating households with their familiarity. Ozark, Alabama, artist Ann Rudd is one of these figures. But even for those who think they know Rudd for her still life paintings and garden art may not be aware of the subject matter that has entranced this artist for the past decade or so.

    

Her enthusiasm began naturally enough. When she and her husband, Jim, purchased their vacation home in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, in 1999, it meant more time at the beach, and thus, more time observing the Gulf of Mexico. Watching firsthand the occurrences of the ocean over the subsequent years, coupled with following news reports on the effects of climate change, sparked Rudd’s interest in capturing the stories of the seas on canvas.

                  “I’ve done a little bit of scientific study on the crises, weather events, ocean events and implications for humans,” Rudd tells. Her focus, she explains, is on “the warming of the seas and the migration of species to cooler waters and the loss of livelihood to coastal communities.”

     These happenings are illuminated in a range of methods and mediums, usually abstracted interpretations. Her 2007 work Rising Sea Level illustrates environmental changes via a rainbow of detailed colored stripes, and her 2009 piece Warming Seas has a similar message, shown through bands of fish in colors ranging from purple to red—cool to warm. More recently, Rudd has portrayed the diminishing population of coral due to shipping practices, along with warming water and acidification of the oceans, and the impact on organisms who use the habitat for breeding. “They can see it in the evening news, but it touches my life as an artist,” Rudd says... [subscribe to read full article and see more photos]