"In all that Madison Cawein has painted, the central metaphor is transformation. Like alchemy, art is a process where one thing becomes another.

For the artist, transformation is a spiritual act that occurs in the making of art.

Cawein possesses the gift and the intelligence to transform a subject through the materiality of paint and to reveal its deeper emotional content. In the end, the art must stand apart from the artist. Transformation, however, can continue for all who are willing to engage art in the light of their own experience."

–Albertus Gorman, Arts Across Kentucky



“Regard this world as I do, like a horseman who stops in the shade of a tree for a while, and then rides on.” —Prophet Muhammad

When we visited Cairo in early 2009, the mother of our host, a Sufi teacher, told me that “Cairo is the mother of the world.” There were as many people in Cairo as in all of Australia. We might see five streams of cars in three lanes. My first sight of the Great Pyramid, Khafre, was from a car.

The pyramids in my photographs are over 2500 years old, which means that mastodons still roamed in the Arctic when they were built. The farms with palms above and other crops below are unchanged for centuries longer than that.

Cairo is a river city. The only water in Egypt is the Nile. There are canals branching from it, and irrigation channels branching from the canals. The channels are filled tidally by the moon. The solid-seeming beams of light under the trees are made of mist and also from extremely fine dust from the desert.

To be in Cairo is to be aware of the passage of millennia, to realize that life is a fleeting gift, and to feel the continuity with other lives over time.

The paintings of fire that accompany the photographs came to me unsought and unexpectedly in my Santa Fe studio a few weeks before actual fires began in New Mexico in 2022. I was thinking only in images. I titled the series “Civilization.” Fire was necessary for us to survive and civilize, and now threatens us as well. I feel the paintings resonating with photos, also speaking to the passage of Time.

-- Madison Cawein





1973                California Institute of the Arts, B.F.A.

1968-71           Harvard University



2023                Cairo: Mother of the World, WheelHouse Art, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition

2021                Empyrean, WheelHouse Art, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition

2019                Ultimate Things, New Paintings by Madison Cawein, B. Deemer Gallery, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition

2018                New Paintings by Madison Cawein, B. Deemer Gallery, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition

2017                Portals to Invisable Worlds, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM Solo Exhibition

2014                New Paintings, B. Deemer Gallery, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition

2011                Sky Still Lifes, B. Deemer Gallery, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition   

2009                Around the World, B. Deemer Gallery, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition

2007                New Works, B. Deemer Gallery, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition

2005, 2004-01,      B. Deemer Gallery, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition



2005                J. B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY

1999                Twister Visions, curated by Al Gorman, Louisville Visual Art Association, Louisville, KY

1993-94           J. B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition

1989-90           Kentucky to Ecuador Invitational, Quito & Cuenca, Ecuador

In Sight of Louisville Invitational, Washington, D.C., Louisville, KY

1988                Bellarmine College, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition

1986-87           Swearingen Gallery, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition

1980, 1985      Portland Museum, Louisville, KY Solo Exhibition

1983                Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY Solo Exhibition

1970, 1971      Harvard-Radcliff Art Forum, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA



American Embassy in Sweden, Ambassador Matthew Barzun

J.B. Speed Art Museum

Louisville Gas & Electric Company

California Institute of the Arts                        

Commonwealth Life Insurance Company

Brown-Forman Corporation                           

MCA Records

Bernheim Foundation                                    

Community Health Systems

Fire King International                                    

Boehl, Stopher & Graves

HRH Princess Alexandra, The Honorable Lady Ogilvy, England

HRH Queen Elizabeth II, England



1993                Kentucky Arts Council Professional Assistance Award

1982- 1984      NEA and Kentucky Arts Council, Artist in Education Grants

1975-1976       I. W. Bernheim Foundation Fellowship



1998                “All in the Family” by Madison Cawein, Louisville Magazine, Louisville, KY. Review of “Wyeth: Three Generations” at J. B. Speed Art Museum. June, pp. 12-15

1994                “Sculptor on the Move” by Madison Cawein, Louisville Magazine, Louisville, KY. Review of Tom Butsch, January/February, p. 71

                        “A Wall Dog's Tale” (profile of Durrett “Smitty” Smith- billboard artist) by Madison Cawein, Louisville Magazine, Louisville, KY. January/February, p. 71

                        “Cherry Picking”, by Madison Cawein, Louisville Magazine, “In Pursuit of Excellence: The Wendell and Dorothy Cherry Collection” at J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY. March, pp. 8-9

1988                Guest Lecturer, Parsons School of Design, New York, NY

1986                “Right Thinking” (Right Hemisphere vs. Left Hemisphere in Art-making), by Madison Cawein, Tower News, Louisville Visual Arts Association, Louisville, KY. March-April, p. 2

1979-94           Guest Lecturer, University of Louisville Institute of Expressive Therapy, Louisville, KY

1974-1975       Visual Arts Associate for the Kentucky Arts Council, Frankfort, KY

1970-1971       Curator, Harvard-Radcliffe Art Forum, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA



2014                “Upcoming Show,” by Maliha Ikram, Louisville Magazine, Louisville, KY. pg. 105

                        “Critic's Picks,” by Elizabeth Kramer, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. May 18, Arts, pg. I2

2011                Interview with Scott Dowd, “Sky Still Lifes by Madison Cawein”,

               , (visual arts),    

2010                “Art About Town,” by Steve Wilson, Sophisticated Living, Lexington, KY. March/April, p. 96-99

2009                “Home and Garden Style Secrets,” Southern Living, February, p. 46. illustration

2007                “Recent Paintings by Madison Cawein,” by Jo Anne Triplett, LEO Weekly, Louisville, KY. May 23-29, review p. 41

                        Kentucky Homes and Gardens, Louisville, KY. July/August, Vol. 4, Issue 4, p. 83, illustration

2005                “Recent Work by Madison Cawein,” by Jo Anne Triplett, LEO Weekly, Louisville, KY

2002                “Endeavors in Media and Art,” The Gallery at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Louisville, KY. catalog p. 5

                        “Art Notes,” by David Minton, Lexington-Herald Leader, Lexington, KY. June 8, illustration

                        “Go See,” by Diane Heilenman, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. May 19, p. I-4 review and illustration

2001                “ATL’s Art Show Challenges Perceptions,” by Amy Drozt, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. November 11, pg. I-1 & I-4, review and illustration

                        “Thinking Art,” by David Minton, Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, KY. March 18, review and illustration

                        “Madison Cawein at B. Deemer Gallery,” by Bruce Nixon, LEO Weekly, Louisville, KY. review

                        Trio, Public Radio Partnership, Louisville, KY. Vol. 6, No.3, cover illustration

                        “Mysticism, Metaphor and Metamorphosis,” by Al Gorman, Arts Across Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Winter, p. 38-41

1997                “Madison Cawein at B. Deemer Gallery,” On the Cover, Art Now Gallery Guide, Southeast, Clinton, NJ. June/July/August, Vol. 16, No. 10, cover & p. SE5

                        Art Now Gallery Guide, Southeast, Clinton, NJ. April, Vol. 16, No. 8, p. SE23, illustration

1995                Art Now Gallery Guide, Southeast, Clinton, NJ. September, Vol. 15, No. 1, p. SE24, back cover, illustration

1994                “Bernheim Artist in Residence”, Bernheim Arboretum Newsletter, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring

1989                “Kentucky to Ecuador”, El Tiempo, Quito, Ecuador. Review, March 12

                        “In Sight of Louisville: A Perspective of Louisville Artists”, Congressional Record 101st Congress, November 14th

1989                “Review”, Louisville Magazine, Cover photo and pp. 18 & 19

1988                “Review”, by Meg Higgins, Dialogue: An Art Journal, Columbus, OH. January-February, pg. 32




“Do you know what a man of earth may be, Khayyam?
A lantern of imaginings, and inside,
A lamp.”
To be an artist is to stand beside the door to the Invisible World and be receptive to what comes through. In these images, both photographs and related paintings, I see the Invisible as the Empyrean embodied symbolically as a chandelier.
The photographs came through all at once. I gathered the ingredients—a chandelier I cleaned up and converted from electricity to candles, reflective surfaces, a black felt backdrop, colored lights—and then put everything in flux for a long exposure time. There was never any intention to illustrate an idea, or any clear plan or expectation about the result. In fact, these images could only be seen by the camera before capture. The images are a pure gift, and one of the most intoxicating experiences I have had as an artist over many decades.
Photography has always been part of my process as a painter. Before now, I used to feel clearly the difference between a photograph that is complete in itself and one meant for completion in a painting. One criterion for painting was always a minimum legibility. If the image was completely abstract with no recognizable subject matter, then it seemed to me that a viewer was more likely not to make any effort to engage the image, and treat the work as decorative and arbitrary, or simply incompetent. A photograph as an indexical sign, that is with a physical connection to its source, has inherent credibility even if it is abstract and illegible. On the other hand, photography has too often appeared to be all about the subject matter. The test for me is whether an image can be adequately described in words or must be seen to communicate.
Ansel Adams, who was a concert-level pianist as well as a photographer, famously said that the negative is like a musical score, and the print is like the performance of it. That relationship holds for photographs and paintings as well. The information in a photo can generate multiple performances as paintings. 
For me, at this point and in this exhibition, the relationship between photographs and paintings has become fluid and wide open again. These images are something new for me, and I am tremendously excited about them.
I want to thank Dan Rutledge at Unique Imaging Concepts, photographer Matt Gatton, and Naomi Stuecker, all of whom contributed to the realization of the photographs, and without whom they could never have come through to this world."
Madison Cawein
August, 2021