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Beth W. Stewart creates colorful and complex abstract acrylic paintings. Her visually striking and expressive art is inspired by historical and contemporary social justice issues.

Stewart’s vibrant palettes and tangled, intricate compositions reflect both the intensity and vitality found in her subject matter. Having begun painting expressively in the midst of conducting research in post-conflict northern Uganda, Stewart’s creative practice is consequently rooted in an ethic of bearing witness. Now, as an educator of history and social justice, she draws inspiration from past and present examples of resistance, revolution, and resilience.

Stewart’s process begins with active painting, producing expressions of her raw emotional responses to the powerful stories she encounters in her academic work. Using palette and large putty knives and paintbrushes, this initial phase produces bold gestural compositions with jolting color combinations. Although deeply influenced by the purity of emotions found in postwar abstract expressionism, Stewart’s process extends beyond the emotional to incorporate her propensity for thoughtful reflection. Thus, as a painting progresses, Stewart transitions from active painting to focused mark-making with small paintbrushes and paint markers. This detailed work is intuitively guided by the architecture of the initial composition and expresses Stewart’s contemplative engagement with the stories and ideas that move her.

The complex yet incomprehensible line work layered atop vibrant, emotional gestural compositions creates a tension suggestive of the intensity and, at times, the urgency in Stewart’s subject matter. The end result of her creative process, however, is artwork that is embedded with meaning, emotion, and audacious hope.

Beth W. Stewart

Theoretically brilliant II


Scaffolding of resistance I


Provocative knowledge


The center of the universe


A dangerous and intriguing woman


Perfect imperfection




Topographies of dissent


Radical imagination