Michele Bourque Sewards: Flora & Fauna

December 2021 – Summer 2022

Pictorial artist Michele Bourque Sewards was a Roswell Artist-in-Residence (RAiR) 1973-1974. Many of the works featured in this exhibition were created during that time.

In fact, when Bourque Sewards’ residency was concluding, the RAiR program was getting rid of its printing press. Bourque Sewards needed a press as she intended to establish a lithography workshop in her home upon returning to Placitas. As printing presses are very expensive pieces of equipment, Bourque Sewards offered to give some of her prints created while in residency in exchange for the press. This is how her series Birds Portfolio, some of which are on display here, came to be in the Roswell Museum’s permanent collection.

Bourque Sewards credits her experience in the RAiR program as a major catalyst in her artistic career, opening doors to further opportunities she would not have had without her Roswell residency. This included, among others, the opportunity to be a guest artist at the Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1979. It was at the Tamarind Institute where Bourque Sewards created Blue Tiger, one of the pieces in this exhibition. After her time in the RAiR program, and throughout the 1970s, Bourque Sewards maintained contact with Wendell Ott, then the Roswell Museum’s Director, and she made many generous gifts of art to the museum’s collection. All of the 23 works on display are from the Roswell Museum’s permanent collection. Twenty-two of these are lithographs, the medium of printmaking Bourque Sewards focused on in the 1970s. The only work displayed here that is not a lithograph is an untitled pencil drawing from 1973 depicting a landscape of trees and sheep under a bird-filled sky. 

Bourque Sewards’ current artistic practice focuses on drawing and sketching. Throughout her career, Bourque Sewards has returned time and again to elements of the natural world, the flora and fauna that represent integral components of our ecosystem. Many of the works displayed here depict everyday plants and animals that are stylized in an imaginative way and others depict creatures that only exist in the artist’s and our own sense of fantasy. We celebrate Bourque Sewards’ inventive view of our shared landscape and the animals, real or imaginary, with which we share it.

Born in St. Louis in 1944, Bourque Sewards received her BFA from the New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred in 1966 and her MFA from the University of New Mexico in 1970. In addition to the Roswell Museum, Bourque Sewards’ work is held in many public collections, including those at the Albuquerque Museum, Grunewald Center for the Graphic Arts in Los Angeles, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe. She currently lives in Placitas, New Mexico.

Michelle Borque Sewards lithograph called Flower

Michele Bourque Sewards
Flower, 1974
Lithograph on Paper
Acquisitions Fund Purchase

Michelle Borque Sewards lithograph called Blue Tiger

Michele Bourque Sewards
Blue Tiger, 1979
Lithograph on Paper
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald D. Martin