Anne Neely



Anne Neely
Water Stories
A Conversation in Paint and Sound
Museum of Science, Boston

July 2014 – January 2015

Water Stories installation view PHOTO: Stewart Clements

"Inspiring curiosity and an appreciation of science is central to the role of a science museum. At the Museum of Science, we focus not so much on the facts of science but on thinking itself — particularly inquiry. Art, when presented as the core experience rather than as adornment, draws visitors into contemplative inquiry and enables paths of learning unavailable otherwise.

Anne Neely's work intrigues me because it invites inquiry so powerfully. These paintings' deep sense of mood and their many details and ambiguities call on me — and I hope everyone — to explore them in detail and ponder the ideas they express. Each painting conveys important concepts. And together, they convey a fundamental truth beyond the sum of those ideas. Water is a unifying element that connects the things we need and value, the way nature truly works, and the myriad of impacts we humans have.

This exhibit not only invites inquiry, it models it. The paintings are a set of intellectual and emotional breadcrumbs left behind as Anne journeyed through the phenomenon of water. We can experience and interpret her creations, but we can also pursue our own paths of inquiry — among the paintings and within each one's visual complexities.

Perhaps this exhibit will have a deep effect on you, one that seeds inquiry into the roles water plays and humanity's many impacts. If that's the case, then we — artist and museum — have fulfilled our now-joined mission."

— David G. Rabkin, PhD, Director for Current Science and Technology, Museum of Science, Boston, MA

Water Stories: A Conversation in Painting and Sound is at the Museum of Science, Boston through January 2015. In recent years I have conveyed ideas about water and the phenomena of water through nature, the news, memory and imagination. These paintings explore the beauty and foreboding of water, related to central themes, mostly manmade and thru climate change affecting this country. Sound artist Halsey Burgund has created a 35 minute audio composition that accompanies the paintings, comprised of five sections grouped by thematic content: The Future, Stories, Bad Things, Science and Cherish (click each link to hear the audio compositions). The voices are edited and combined with water sounds and musical elements and play in a continuous loop throughout the gallery.

By placing this work in this Museum of Science there is an extraordinary opportunity to clarify and illuminate issues around water through visceral connections that paintings often elicit from viewers while raising public awareness. My hope is that this exhibition will spawn a new sense of ownership about not only the issues facing us about water but how we use water on a daily basis.

— Anne Neely, 2014

Water Stories
View a .pdf of the book.

Contents include:
Foreword by David Rabkin, former Farinon Director for Current Scient and Technology, Museum of Science, Boston
Essay Painting Water by Lilly Wei, NY-based art critic and independent curator
Essay Water by Sandra Postel, Freshwater Fellow, National Geographic Society
Statement by Anne Neely
Images of all artworks in exhibition, installation views.

Anne Neely painting — pour
Anne Neely painting — pour
PHOTOS: David Rabkin

Water Stories from Bryan Barton on Vimeo.

Credits: Bryan Barton, video; Molly Segal and Coe Lapossy assistants

The above video is a two minute plus video by Bryan Barton called "A Pour," produced to demonstrate how each of the water paintings began. Because the canvases were so large I had two assistants work as my extended arms to move the canvas!


[ See .pdf of Water Stories book (above) for all works in exhibition. ]

Troubled Waters

Lost (River)
LOST (RIVER), 2014

Alchemy Soup

SPILL, 2014

GUSH, 2014

Run Off
RUN OFF, 2014


SQUALL, 2014

BLOOM, 2014


WITHIN, 2014


Watch a video of Anne Neely and Shafik Islam speaking at the Museum of Science on October 1, 2014:

Water Stories is included in Scientific American's "The ScienceArt Exhibit Roundup This Fall", October 30, 2014.

Anne Neely Water Stories from Anne Neely on Vimeo

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