Artist and architect Mac Ball finds inspiration in riverine environments and coastal southern landscapes. Raised along the waterways and marshes of Charleston, South Carolina, he now resides in New Orleans where he has been witnessing an ever-increasing crisis of land loss and environmental devastation. Since Hurricane Katrina, his architectural firm has been rebuilding the City and has focused on sustainable water management. Waggonner & Ball has teamed with experts from the Netherlands to weave stormwater management concepts into urban design initiatives and coastal stormwater projects in Connecticut, Norfolk, Charleston and Houston.

Mac’s love of Louisiana’s coastal landscape and a fascination with the way water alters one’s perception of the environment has fundamentally changed his artistic direction in this time of sea level rise. Counterpoised with coastal imagery, a fascination with the source and movement of water that flows to the sea has also born a body of work that is focused on movement and the refraction of light and color that plays upon highland streams.

“Climate change will continue to erode and transform landscapes and waterways, yet Earth will continue to yield magic and beauty throughout this ongoing and inevitable process. My hope is that my work will, for a brief moment, capture the materiality and light, the feel, of this ephemeral threshold in time.”

Born 1953, Charleston, SC
Currently lives and works in New Orleans

B.A. Studio Art / English; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
M. Arch; Yale School of Architecture, New Haven; William Wirt Winchester Travelling Fellowship

Select Solo Exhibitions
Mac Ball / Recent Work, Cole Pratt Gallery

Stillness, Cole Pratt Gallery

Riversongs, Page Bond Gallery

Islands / Bitterroot Suite, Page Bond Gallery

Topological Narratives, Cole Pratt Gallery

Wish You Were Here, Cole Pratt Gallery

Modern Life, Cole Pratt Gallery

Recent Paintings, Cole Pratt Gallery

Select Group Exhibitions

Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans / 20th Anniversary Exhibition

Looking Out / Looking In, StudioWaveland Gallery

Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans / Louisiana Contemporary Exhibit

Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans / Louisiana Contemporary Exhibit

James Stirling at Yale/Student Work. Yale School of Architecture

Make it Right/From Concept to Community, Contemporary Art Center

Group Show: Mac Ball/Recent Paintings, Uptown Gallery

Art by Architects, Contemporary Art Center

Ten Years Out, Yale School of Architecture

Birdhouses By Architects, New Orleans Museum of Art

Select Collections
Iberia Bank
The Historic New Orleans Collection
Bayou District Foundation / Columbia Parc
Capital One Bank
Plauche Maselli Parkerson, LLC
Lambeth House Senior Living

Related Experience
Elected to College of Fellows (FAIA), American Institute of Architects

Principal and Founder, Waggonner & Ball Architects, LLC

Associate, Eskew, Vogt Salvato & Filson Architects

Design Team Leader, Cesar Pelli & Associates, New Haven

Roth and Moore Architects, New Haven

ISLANDS/ Bitterroot Suite
When I was young, about thirteen, I bought a $15 fly rod at Woolworth’s because my father had one and he caught mountain trout with it. My family spent a week each summer fly fishing the Davidson River in Pisgah Forest, near Brevard, NC. Walking the narrow, winding stream alone, catching these beautiful fish brought unspeakable joy to me and my three brothers. Every bend revealed an entire new set of conditions and, more importantly, characters: boulders of all sizes, around which wary trout lurked. It was my job to find them, catch them and bring them home for my mother to cook.
Some forty or so years later I was designing a school in Beijing and stopped in Japan for two days to visit the famous gardens of Kyoto. I remember being transported in some way back to that trout stream. The zen gardens with their rocks and raked gravel patterns resembled miniature, frozen landscapes, as their makers intended…but for me they were waterscapes or a depiction of islands in a stream or ocean. I learned that the arrangement and numberings were carefully composed. Each rock was chosen for its shape and character and placed in a composition that changed as one walked around.
Another five years went by and I found myself fly fishing in a magnificent trout stream in western Montana, the Bitterroot River. The boulders I was fishing around and to, with the current swirling around them in the dappled light with the forest behind, were living zen gardens, layered across the water with multiple perspectives. I started to paint abstracted river compositions from memory, arranging “islands” in context with one another in the light and shadows. I have now painted seventy-seven of these paintings.