“Self-taught abstract expressionist sculptor, her works are known for reflecting the nature of Louisiana and the culture of Jim Crow South. Exposure to Black culture of the South at the black congregations she went to as a child and the penal farm her husband supervised affected her works. She volunteered at a Presbyterian church school for black children and was terrorized by night riders circling the schoolhouse to frighten her and the children.
She used the nature around her Lake Bistineau cottage home to inspire her style saying “you are in different world. It became a part of me. Where the moss swooped down, I wanted my sculpture to look like it grew out of the earth and was trying to touch the moss.” Her sculptures are known for slender constructions of found objects often covered in a “”skin”” made of macerated newspaper, brown paper, and Elmer’s glue. Connell often applied broken pieces of metal, tools, or other found objects that her son Bryan brought to her by the truckload. Her yard, studio, and home were littered with completed compositions, works in progress, and scraps that eventually found their way into her sculpture.
During her lifetime she was a member of the Presbyterian Women’s leadership, representing Louisiana, and traveling to their annual national meeting in New York City. It was there that she discovered abstract impressionism, and became a painter and sculptor. In the 1960s, she set up studio, and worked full-time, making sculpture assemblages of wood, iron, and found material. Connell did not find national recognition until she was 81. In 1984 she was one of six women honored by the Women’s Caucus for Art.
Connell is the subject of a one-woman play, Louisiana Women: Clyde written by Lake Charles playwright Carolyn Woosley. The play was on tour throughout Louisiana in Fall 2010. Notes on the research sources for the play were included in Woosley’s playscripts’ book.
In the year of her death, she was named a Louisiana “”Living Legend”” by the state of Louisiana. In 2011, the Cameron Art Museum held a retrospective.”
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