Archive for the 'Artist Spotlight' Category

Visiting Artists Coming to the Gibbes

With temperatures going up and scaffolding coming down, it is clear that the reopening of the Gibbes on May 28th is fast approaching. During my second semester as an intern at the Gibbes, I have been given the opportunity to see a lot of projects develop and cannot wait to see them come to life this spring. One of the projects I have been most excited about is the Visiting Artist program that will have a home in the Museum’s new first floor studios. Not only will the Visiting Artist program give the community opportunities to interact with the artists, but the series will be a great way to intersperse contemporary art into Charleston’s understanding of art in the South. The first visiting artist will be Sonya Clark, the 2014 winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Soutnern Art, who will be in the studio from May 28–June 2.

Clark’s is known for her unique choices in media including beads, combs, and human hair. Her work not only addresses issues such as race, culture, class, and history but also aims to make a personal connection to viewers. During her time in Charleston, she will bring to the Gibbes an interactive project called “Pluck and Grow.” This installation is a collaborative piece between Clark and Museum visitors. Clark uses hair as metaphor for what connects us as humans, separates us into racial groups, and makes us individuals. The artist invites people to write their “hair stories” on a piece of paper—whether that be a poem, a story, or a drawing. The paper will be dyed in varying shades of black, brown, and blonde to give the appearance of human hair and Clark will twist and insert them into “follicles” drilled into a surface, referencing a human head. Once on display, Clark invites viewers to pluck a strand, read the story, and replace it with their own hair story on a slip of white paper. As these new stories replace the original ones, the piece will take on the appearance of aging—as real human hair would.

Pluck and Grow by Sonya Clark

A detail of an installation of “Pluck and Grow” by Sonya Clark.

This installation piece will provide a great opportunity for visitors to engage with the artist, and I think it is a perfect way to introduce the Visiting Artist program at the Gibbes. I know that Sonya Clark isn’t the only amazing artist they have lined up—painter Jill Hooper will be in the studio immediately following Clark as she prepares for a large-scale fresco in Jerusalem, Israel. I am so excited for what the future of this program holds!

Valerie Coughlin, College of Charleston intern and guest blogger

The Secret Language of Cloth, an Interview with Susan Hull Walker

Susan Hull Walker, who founded ibu in 2013, studied World Religions at Harvard Divinity School and served for eighteen years as a minister in Maine, San Francisco, and Charleston, SC. When she returned to school to study Fiber Arts, she learned to weave and speak in the language of cloth. It opened her eyes to the very thing she had been looking for in her previous work – a woman’s way of recording her mind and soul. What she didn’t find in parchment and page, she found in textiles. A woman’s text. Walker is the featured speaker at the Gibbes October Art With a Twist event entitled, The Secret Language of Cloth and graciously agreed to share some of the meanings of cloth with us here.

Susan Hull Walker in her studio

Susan Hull Walker, ibu Founder

Amy: Susan, your upcoming talk is titled, “The Secret Language of Cloth.” Are you saying there is more to fabrics and cloth than meets the eye? Can you explain what that means?

Susan: Of course. In the middle ages, stripes were uncommon and disturbing to the eye – a striped garment moved in uncertain ways rather than waiting politely like a smooth, solid color. Which is how stripes came to be called The Devil’s Cloth and relegated to the edges of their society: worn by jesters, prostitutes, serfs, the condemned. Even in recent years, prisoners suit up in wide horizontal stripes against the vertical bars of their cell and form a visual grid, a cage, in which they live. The history of striped clothing is one fascinating skip through the western sartorial canon, all the way up to sailors, referees, and Picasso – all on the edge of their game.

In Eastern Europe, red embroidery long protected the vulnerable openings of neck and wrists where evil spirits might slip through, and is shaped into a beautiful armor of threads over the chest. A Pazyryk linen shift dating back to the 4th century, BC, has been found bound in red – embroidered with amulets, tokens of sacred power, to ward off the unworthy. Red thread, almost universally, denotes the vital flow of blood, life, passion and fertility, fierce against the dark powers that would diminish it.

IBU fabric

ibu fabric

On the Indonesian island of Sumba, only women of a certain mature age may go near the indigo dye bath, so potent is its power. Women over 50 have known the losses of this world and can bear the deep mysteries of the dye – a ‘blue art’ not suitable for women of a child-bearing age. Men are forbidden to go near it altogether. Indigo has its own secret society of the wise elders, strong and initiated.

Cloth is a trove of story and symbol. The creation of cloth consumed the vast majority of a woman’s time before the industrial revolution – cultivating flax, tending sheep, spinning yarn, dyeing, weaving, stitching, embellishing, piecing and repairing. And so it is saturated with the imagination of women in every step. Needle and thread form a kind of writing. Cloth reveals a secret language that opens to a curious mind.

It’s been my fascination to dive into these stories and try to decipher some of the most common motifs we see but no longer understand.

Why is the woven diamond pattern so universal and ancient – from Laos to Morocco to Guatemala?

Why the ubiquitous Tree of Life, the many shapes of sun, the fertile pomegranate?

Where do brides wear black? And why does a priest wear ‘a little house’? which is, after all, what a chasuble means . . .

Let’s explore more of these mysteries together. I look forward to translating with you the secret language of cloth.

Amy: Thanks so much Susan! We are looking forward to this event.

Susan Hull Walker founded the ibu movement, an enterprise aiding women artisans around the world by offering their hand-crafted textile wares for sale at a showroom on King Street and online. ibu, which means, a woman of respect in the Malay language, aims to continue the world’s great cultural languages in cloth and to empower the women who still carry these rich languages in their hands.

Art with a Twist: The Secret Language of Cloth with Susan Hull Walker 
Wednesday, October 21, 6pm
$20 Members, $30 Non Members
Location: Ibu, 183 King Street

1858 Prize Finalist Deborah Luster

Deborah Luster, a finalist for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, from New Orleans, Louisiana, investigates the violence of her home city through photographs. Her mother was a homicide victim, which has inspired Luster to photograph scenes of crimes as well as inmates in Louisiana prisons. Her two bodies of work, “One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana” and “Tooth for an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish,” grapple with death, violence, and the environments in which tragedies take place.

The photographs that compose “One Big Self” are held inside a black steel cabinet, from which viewers must open heavy drawers in order to see and touch the “invisible persons” that inhabit Lousiana’s prisons. On the back of each of the photographs in this collection is information concerning the inmates captured in each photograph, transforming these individuals into human beings rather than mere criminals. For the artist, “‘One Big Self’ is a document to ward off forgetting, an opportunity for those inmates to present themselves as they would be seen, bringing what they own or borrow or use: work tools, objects of their making, messages of their choosing, their bodies, themselves.” The photographs that make up this collection are intensely personal and moving, giving a social presence to those marginalized members of society that have committed acts of violence and are paying their dues.

Luster_OneBigSelf

One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, 1998-2003, Deborah Luster

In a city as vibrant and culturally diverse as New Orleans, violence is often overlooked, despite its huge presence in the community. “Tooth for an Eye” works to illustrate the themes of loss and remembrance that are central to everyday life in a city where “life and death coexist, neither free of the other’s influence.” The images of “Tooth for an Eye” are contained in ledgers, which are laid out on a sweet gum, hickory, and steel table, again requiring the viewer to touch and interact with the work. This hands-on experience gives a more emphatic significance to the Luster’s photographs, requiring viewers to face the violence and tragedy that the artist captures with her camera.

Deborah Luster

Tooth for an Eye, Ledger 06-16, by Deborah Luster
2008 – 2011

 

Location: 2400 Villere Street (St. Roch)

Date(s): January 10, 1993

January 18, 1993

June 13, 2009 1 a.m.

November 17, 2008

Name(s): Jermaine White (20)

Brother Emerson (17)

Leroy Harris ((19)

Kendrick Thomas (22)

Deborah Luster participated in the Irish Museum of Modern Arts 2014 Residency Programme in Dublin, after she was awarded a 2013 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. Her work is currently on show in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, New Orleans Museum of Art, and other private and public collections. Read more about her life and work here.

1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art Unveiling Party
Thursday, September 17, 6pm
$25 Society 1858 Members, $35 Non-Members
Location: The Drawing Room at The Vendue, 19 Vendue Range

1858 Prize Dinner
Thursday, September 17, 7:30pm
$100 Society 1858 Members, $135 Non-Members
Location: The Gallery at The Vendue, 26 Vendue Range

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events

India Dial, Marketing Intern, 2015

Q&A with 1858 Prize Finalist George Jenne

George Jenne, one of the six finalists for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, earned a BFA in Film/Video from Rhode Island School of Design in 1995 and went on to get his MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013. He currently lives and works in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he uses both written word and film to reveal the intense emotions individuals through installations and videos. Jenne’s interest in the relationship between words and images stems from the ability of words to “allow me access to the complexity of ideas and emotions that I’m not able to deploy through purely visual means. I write, alongside the images that I create, in a way that word and image develop separately but synchronously, methodically but with minimal preconception. In time they cross-pollinate and meld.” Through his combination of these two mediums, Jenne creates works in which “intimate details are myopic surrogates for expansive places and boundless phenomena.” Read the rest of his artist’s statement here.

What is your creative process?

I write words and I shoot moving images. Generally, I will write until I’m stuck, then turn to the video or film camera and shoot images until I’m stuck there, then go back to the writing, and on and on. This way the words and images cross pollinate. They inform each other in a way that the normal script to screen process doesn’t really allow for. I find that the work evolves quite organically, this way

 

Jenne_SpookyUnderstands

Spooky Understands, 2015, by George Jenne

 

Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

Movies, first and foremost. For me a movie is the ultimate creative form even though it’s riddled with problems. I draw a lot from my home state, North Carolina, from the small details of the place; its terrain, texture, and its language. I’m in love with the way Southerners talk to each other.

Who are your artistic influences?

Barry Hannah is a writer who is always seeping into what I do. I’ve never seen stranger, more exciting sentences on a page. He also understood the South in a most unusual way. Then, art wise, I would say that Mike Kelley has had the most influence on me of anyone. At various points in my work and life, I latch onto an art hero for as long as I benefit from that influence, then I move on. I don’t think that I will ever outgrow Mike Kelley.

Do you have a favorite of the work that you have produced?

Right now, my favorite piece is a single channel video called “The Gong Farmer.” The title is an old English euphemism for the man who collected solid waste from people’s privies before industrialization. They were later called “Night Men.” The narrative follows a meal from the table to the outhouse where it’s collected by a gong farmer. Then the story jumps to a modern day Waffle House where a crew of night men are eating a meal having finished emptying every port-a-john in Caswell County, NC. The entire piece is written on a roll of toilet paper which slowly scrolls up the screen. I like it because it’s simple, elegantly worded, and raunchy all at once.

The Gong Farmer,” 2015, by George Jenne

Still from “The Gong Farmer,” 2015, by George Jenne

 

To watch more of Jenne’s works:

The Gong Farmer

Spooky Understands

Preamble

Big Bird Made Me Watch published in June 2013 in The Brooklyn Rail

1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art Unveiling Party
Thursday, September 17, 6pm
$25 Society 1858 Members, $35 Non-Members
Location: The Drawing Room at The Vendue, 19 Vendue Range

1858 Prize Dinner
Thursday, September 17, 7:30pm
$100 Society 1858 Members, $135 Non-Members
Location: The Gallery at The Vendue, 26 Vendue Range

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events

India Dial, Marketing Intern, 2015

Q&A with 1858 Prize Finalist Kevin Jerome Everson

Kevin Jerome Everson, a finalist for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, grew up in Mansfield, Ohio. He received an MFA from Ohio University and a BFA from the University of Akron. He currently works as an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he teaches film.

What is your creative process?

My films combine scripted and documentary elements with touches of formalism. The subject matter is the gestures or tasks caused by certain conditions in the lives of working class African Americans and other people of African descent. The conditions are usually physical, social-economic circumstances or weather. Instead of standard realism I favor a strategy that abstracts everyday actions and statements into theatrical gestures, in which archival footage is re-edited or re-staged, real people perform fictional scenarios based on their own lives and historical observations intermesh with contemporary narratives. The films suggest the relentlessness of everyday life—along with its beauty—but also presents oblique metaphors for art making.

Kevin Jerome Everson

Still from “Ninety-Three,” 2008, by Kevin Jerome Everson

The new work still embraces the similar condition, but I am increasingly interested in interrupting documentary scenes with abstract, formal scenes, those situations where necessity collides with coincidence. The coincidence is the scene that looks as if it was culled from archival footage, an accident or mistake in the actual film material, while necessity is the plot or character that drives the film. I am pleased when these qualities collide in terms of form, because it plays with this ambivalent relationship between art and narrative, fact and fiction. Eventually, I trust that by working in this manner, years from now, I will see my work as achieving pure form.

What is important to my creative process is for the work to reveal the materials, procedure and process. This approach comes from my undergraduate art instruction and influences. My professors, educated at Iowa University and Yale in the 1970s, taught from this standpoint during my college years in the 80’s. It was a post-Smithson approach. I believe that this approach is not necessarily important to be noticeable to the viewer; it merely explains how I continue to approach the craft of art making. I firmly believe that the materials (film, video) of the work must be noticeable. A light flare, over-exposed film, color flares, distorted sounds and even prolonged taping enhance my notion of materiality. Procedure is the formal quality I am exploring with the work. The process is the execution of the formal quality. Once I have a grasp of procedure, the process becomes a discipline. Recently I’ve been making films with single eleven-minute takes, the real-time exposure of a 400’ roll of 16mm film. The materials are the 16mm film and camera. The procedure is that everything has to be framed within a limited time structure. The process is filming everything with that eleven-minute time structure in mind.

Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

I respond to story telling in the Black community. Mostly around the working class Midwest. I am drawn to fragile moments between success and failure in daily life.

 

Half On Half Off,” 2011, by Kevin Jerome

Still from “Half On Half Off,” 2011, by Kevin Jerome Everson

Who are your influences?

Comedian Richard Pryor and the playwright Lorraine Hansberry are big influences in my work. Both of these artists herald from the state of Illinois. I respond to Pryor because of his ability to create colorful minor characters and give them depth with one or two lines of dialogue. Hansberry has a knack for creating fragile spaces between success and failure for characters. Also a big influence is the Baroque Italian painter Caravaggio, the American photographer Garry Winogrand, and the Swiss sculptors Peter Fischli and David Weiss.

Do you have a favorite work that you have produced? If so, please describe it. 

I made many films that I love but Emergency Needs (2007, 7 minutes, color, 16mm and HD) is one of my favorite films. Emergency Needs is about the first Black mayor of a major metropolitan city dealing with an explosive event in 1968. Carl B. Stokes was elected mayor of Cleveland in 1967. Many credited his election on the devastating east side Hough riots of the summer of 1967. Cleveland was one of a few cities that did not burn down when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in April 1968. However the easy calm did not last long. In the summer of 1968 the east side of Cleveland erupted with the Cleveland-Shoot-Out AKA the Glenville Uprising. The Glenville Uprising was one of the only conflicts where more police officers died than black Americans. Inside the uprising areas, white police officers were indiscriminately shooting innocent black Americans so they could get the number of death balanced (or unbalanced). Mayor Stokes’ solution to the violent acts of the police was to only let black national guard troops, black police officers and black state police officers inside the uprising areas. His planned worked. Emergency Needs uses found footage of Mayor Stokes being cool and calm during several hostile press conferences. The Mayor’s performance was incredible. I wanted to highlight his performances by hiring an actor to mimic the performance. The film uses archival footage of Mayor Stokes buttressed against a re-enactment. It was the first time I had tried re-enacting found footage. Now it is part of one of my artistic practices.  Emergency Needs is one of my successful films.

Emergency Needs,” 2007, by Kevin Jerome Everson;

Still from “Emergency Needs,” 2007, by Kevin Jerome Everson

How did you find out about the 1858 Society Prize?

I found out about it through my artist peers.

1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art Unveiling Party
Thursday, September 17, 6pm
$25 Society 1858 Members, $35 Non-Members
Location: The Drawing Room at The Vendue, 19 Vendue Range

1858 Prize Dinner
Thursday, September 17, 7:30pm
$100 Society 1858 Members, $135 Non-Members
Location: The Gallery at The Vendue, 26 Vendue Range

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events

India Dial, Marketing Intern, 2015

Q&A with 1858 Prize Finalist Aldywth

Aldwyth, one of the six finalists for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, has lived in relative seclusion in Hilton Head, SC for several decades. Her work is composed of collages and assemblages that she creates from found objects, appropriated images, and other elements. She sees her work as very closely connected to her every day life, in the sense that her work is essentially her life and vice versa.

“I make my work for myself — each ‘work’ is defined as both verb and noun. The large collages and the bricolage work are made of many small works that inform each other. I never know what a work will look like until it is finished. It’s what I get up for every morning — to see what will happen during the process. Most of my work starts out as ‘what if’ or ‘how can I.’ The subject matter is generally autobiographical with science and technology underlying themes. The work is about what I do, making art, process. I use a series to examine a problem or idea — then usually the series ends up as one work. I spend months going through magazines and books, filing and cutting out images that will become one of several ideas simmering at a time. At sometime in the preparation I have to start putting certain things together and a work starts to take form and leads me on a fabulous trip.”

Aldwyth, SecretsofMyMind

Secrets of my mind,
2015

A brain storm of images and thoughts by artists crowding my mind pushing all else aside.

Aldwyth, “Where were you when the moon was full?”

Where were you when the moon was full?, (2001-2005)

What it means to be in the right place at the right time (or vice versa).

This very close association between life and work results in incredibly detailed and intricate works — often monumental in scale — that express a range of emotions and artistic inspiration. Each of Aldwyth’s works is different from the last, as her thoughts and emotions develop from day to day. She does not rush a project, but rather holds on to images and objects for years at a time, so that when she needs them she knows exactly where to find them. Aldwyth’s works, abstracted and detailed, have an incredibly well-thought out and polished quality which expresses an underlying meaning and inspiration — a true testament to the comprehensive and thorough process that she engages in every day.

“Evolution of a species” Aldwyth

Evolution of a species

This piece is an investigation into process and the work ethic done during seminal residency (my “MFA” thesis?) at ARAC. With access to all facilities, I learned new skills and fabricated 69 small 3 legged experiments. The work grew with me. A record of the fabrication of each work, texts collaged on every edge of containers, and all things pertaining to the work, are recorded in old ledger. I like to think of someone sitting with the work, packed, and opening each part, feeling the textures – reading the text some from old bootleg copy of Robinson Crusoe, and Science and Human Values by Bronowski and unwrapping each experiment and reading its documentation in the Book. Later, the repacked containers attached to a framework on wheels would be transported to a dark corner, leaving behind the Book open to a favorite page.

“Casablanca classic version”

Casablanca classic version (2003-2006)

Visualizing a flood of eyes looking out as if the art were the observer. Silk tissue covers work by some of my favorite artists with the eyes sliding over and around the works – some embellished with the eyes of their creator.

The World According to Zell

The world according to Zell

An encyclopedia is a snapshot of what is deemed important at THAT time and by THAT compiler THIS is a compilation of those same images as THIS artist responds to them at THIS time. Every picture from 1873 Zell Encyclopedia (2000 plus) rearranged as still life, landscape, portraiture, abstraction, science, technology. Penciled across the central background are thoughts on the effect technology would have had on the process and the differences between traditional and computer generated collage. The attachment assists with details.

1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art Unveiling Party
Thursday, September 17, 6pm
$25 Society 1858 Members, $35 Non-Members
Location: The Drawing Room at The Vendue, 19 Vendue Range

1858 Prize Dinner
Thursday, September 17, 7:30pm
$100 Society 1858 Members, $135 Non-Members
Location: The Gallery at The Vendue, 26 Vendue Range

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events

India Dial, Marketing Intern, 2015

Q&A With 1858 Prize Finalist, Ebony Patterson

Ebony G. Patterson, a finalist for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, has an Honors Diploma in Painting from Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, as well as an MFA in Printmaking and Drawing from Sam Fox College of Art and Design at Washington University in St. Louis. She currently lives and works in Lexington, KY. In her work she “explores the tension between the transformed and that which transforms, interrogating the ever-changing relationship between the ‘video light’ and the performed male within dancehall culture.” The Jamaican cultural influence on Patterson’s work is unique in its artistic expression, allowing for a very singular technique and product.

What is your creative process?

Hmmmm that’s hard to say sometimes. I am a mixed-media artist whose practice is grounded in the language of painting. I use drawing, painting, installation, and the performative. But for me the construction of my work is rooted in the language of painting. “Bella Krew” looks at gangs and other social masculine groups as an alternate family in working class communities.

 

"Brella Krew- From the Fambily Series"

“Brella Krew- From the Fambily Series”

“Bella Krew – From the Fambily Series,” 2012, by Ebony G. Patterson; mixed media jacquard tapestry; variable dimensions.

Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

I draw inspiration from popular culture, current social issues, and of course my homeland Jamaica.

Ebony Patterson

“Invisible Presence – Bling Memories

The project is inspired by the pageantry of bling funerals, a growing custom in working class communities in Kingston, Jamaica, that fuses traditional funerary practices and popular cultural aesthetics. This practice is a powerful declaration of presence. ‘You may not have noticed me when I was here, but you will damn well notice me before I leave!’

Who are your artistic influences?

I admire the works of many artists but I can’t say that I am influenced by some more than others. I respect the practices of many, but I am extremely intrigued by dancehall culture and (black) popular culture as a whole. I enthralled by the use of such spaces and its cultural signage that allow for visibility, performativity and pageantry.

Ebony Patterson

Gully Godz in Conversation I

This work looks at the shifts in the Nationalist Period of painting in Jamaica and contemporary representations of domestic spaces. It examines the shifts in domestic space. The women are no longer home they are at work, and the men are on the street corners. The work entails a number of objects that are used often to validate one’s machismo. This work is in direct response to Barrington Watson’s “Conversations.”

Ebony Patterson

“Conversations,” Barrington Watson, 1981

Do you have a favorite of the work that you have produced? If so, please describe it.

Well not really a favorite but there is a work that I see as an important moment that is helping me to enhance new problems. ‘Where we found them,’ is a mixed-media hand embroidered and embellished jacquard tapestry with 100 two toned pink flowers and two pairs of shoes. It’s from the Dead Treez Series.

Ebony Patterson

Where We Found Them – Dead Treez

The images are of working class persons who have died under violent circumstances. It is because of the presence of popular cultural archetypes like social media, these horrific images, have made these otherwise invisible persons visible. The recurring question or fact of these persons’ socio-economic realities has remained with me. I question the accessibility and ownership of these images. The fact that social media has illuminated the presence of these otherwise invisible people.

1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art Unveiling Party
Thursday, September 17, 6pm
$25 Society 1858 Members, $35 Non-Members
Location: The Drawing Room at The Vendue, 19 Vendue Range

1858 Prize Dinner
Thursday, September 17, 7:30pm
$100 Society 1858 Members, $135 Non-Members
Location: The Gallery at The Vendue, 26 Vendue Range

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events

India Dial, Marketing Intern, 2015

For more

Q&A with 1858 Prize Finalist, Andréa Keys Connell

Andréa Keys Connell, one of the six finalists for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, graduated with a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore in 2002 and went on to earn an MFA from Ohio University in Athens in 2009. She currently lives and works in Richmond, Virginia, where she is Clay Area Head and Assistant Professor in the Department of Craft and Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. Connell produces monumental works in clay, which grapple with the complex ideas of human defenselessness, expressed through distorted, elongated, and fragmented bodies, many of which appear to be melting. These deeply moving installations suggest the unavoidable vulnerability of mankind.

What is your creative process?

That is such a big question because I do not think that my life is separate from my process. I am constantly observing, gathering, processing.. repeat… There is not much that enters my life that does not filter in some way into my analytical process. As for my physical making process… I had my “coming to clay” moment when I was a junior in college. Prior to that, I was focusing primarily on painting and photography. When I found clay, a connection between my brain, heart, and hands clicked on, and I never left the clay studio. When I think about it now it makes a lot of sense. My mother collected Majolica , Zsnolnay, and Herend and when I was little, I would play with the Zsolnay and Herend figurines as though they were dolls. When she would catch me playing with them she would take them and place them back on their shelves reminding me of their preciousness. Their “preciousness” only made them more valuable to me and the narratives that I would impose on them. I think I am also just more of a 3D thinker when it comes to making. It was such a relief to me when I found clay — to be able to discover a form through the ability to touch it in the round. It is such a physical relationship, and when making life size or larger figures, I find myself hugging and pressing up against, pushing and pulling on the clay — and all of this contact is imprinted on the surface of the clay…it’s a pretty delicious way of making…I build my pieces hollow, moving between coils, slabs, and pinching. Building hollow provides me with the ability to form my figures by pressing from the inside. This feels very natural to me in thinking about the body — the skin/clay is shaped by what is beneath it. In this case, it is the internal pressure that I am using to shape the skin — I find an endless supply of metaphors in this way of making and representing the figure.

AKC

From where do you draw inspiration for your work?

I have my go to sources that I am always pulling imagery and content from such as newspapers, photojournalism, monuments, figurines, statuary, fables, battlefields, graveyards, Romanticism, wind… and then there are the things that inspire me unexpectedly — those are usually the most powerful points of inspiration, when something just comes to me, changes me, makes me see something in new way. This is usually inspired by a specific space, a sound, a book, news, birth, death. I am fascinated by people and by how our life experiences shape who we become, and I believe that the body reveals far more than the mind wants it to — for this reason, I have a terrible habit of observing faces and bodies very closely and I draw great inspiration from watching the way someone moves their mouth when they talk or are on the verge of speaking. I love hands and feet, and their ability to tell a different story than the mouth. I love wrinkles and sags and bags, fingernails, toenails, and earlobes… all of the parts of the body that have the ability to speak volumes about an individual’s history.

Andrea Keys Connell

“Boreas,” 2014, by Andrea Keys Connell

Who are your artistic influences?

I find endless inspiration in Delacroix and Gérricault paintings — particularly The Barque of Danté and The Raft of the Medusa, and I have an endless list of artist whom I admire. I can however, name the three pieces of art that have moved me on a profound level, and whom I am deeply grateful for- The first is a painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Girl With Broken Pitcher, 1891. This painting is located in the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. I came across it when I was 16 and I found myself completely enraptured by the mysterious story behind the girl’s gaze. I recognized something in myself in this girl and it was the first piece of art to move me to tears. The second is James Turrell’s Into the Light. I stood in the room with this floating square of light for a long time, trying very hard to understand how it existed. When I convinced myself that it was somehow projected onto the wall, another viewer moved her hand through the square. It is hard to describe this throttling shift of perspective, but it was so profound that my knees buckled. Come to think of it, I had a similar experience when I realized the poetics of Felix Gonzalez-Toress work. The third piece is a more recent piece that I believe to be one of the most achingly strong pieces I have seen in a very long time, Heather Cassil’s Becoming an Image. There are so many levels of conversation that lie within this piece that it actually renders me speechless. 

 

“Un-Home-Like,” 2010, by Andrea Keys Connell

“Un-Home-Like,” 2010, by Andrea Keys Connell

 

1858 prize finalist Andrea Keys Connell

The Barque of Dante, 1822, by Eugène Delacroix

Do you have a favorite of the work that you have produced? If so, please describe it.

I am very excited by the public art commission that I just completed for the Cleveland Public Library, Migration. The potential in public art is a very interesting challenge that I would love to continue to engage. Through this project and a previous commission, I have been able to work in a scale that never seemed possible before. I can see a space where I can truly challenge the notion of the monumental/monument.

1858 prize finalist Andrea Keys Connell

“Migration,” Cleveland Public Library, 2015, by Andrea Keys Connell

How did you find out about the 1858 Prize?

I have followed this prize over the last three years and am deeply honored to be amongst the finalists.

Read more about Andréa Keys Connell’s work here and on her website.

1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art Unveiling Party
Thursday, September 17, 6pm
$25 Society 1858 Members, $35 Non-Members
Location: The Drawing Room at The Vendue, 19 Vendue Range

1858 Prize Dinner
Thursday, September 17, 7:30pm
$100 Society 1858 Members, $135 Non-Members
Location: The Gallery at The Vendue, 26 Vendue Range

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events

India Dial, Marketing Intern, 2015

1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, 2015 Short List of Finalists

On June 15, 2015 the Gibbes Museum of Art and Society 1858 announced the short list of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. The $10,000 annual prize recognizes a Southern artist who has distinguished him or herself in any media and has made a distinct contribution to the production and understanding of Southern art. The prize, originally given as the Factor prize by Mallory and Elizabeth Factory in 2007, is now overseen by Society 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art’s young patron auxiliary group. The Society 1858 Board of Directors has spent the last few years working to rejuvenate and rebrand the prize, which now has its own website (1858prize.org) and helps the museum to establish long-term relationships with its prize-winning artists.

This year, over 275 artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia submitted their work for consideration for the prize. Six artists have been chosen for the short list of finalists, from which one winner will be chosen and announced on September 17 during an event hosted by Society 1858 and the Gibbes Museum of Art. The six artists who have been selected are Aldwyth, Andrea Keys Connell, Kevin Jerome, Everson, George Jenne, Deborah Luster, and Ebony G. Patterson. These six impressive artists were selected by a panel of judges including Charles Ailstock, Society 1858 Board member; Jamieson Clair, Society 1858 Board President; Sonya Clark, artist and 2014 Prize winner; Miranda Lash, Curator of Contemporary Art, The Speed Art Museum; Cary Levine, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Mark Sloan, Director and Chief Curator, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art; and Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibitions at the Gibbes Museum of Art. This year’s finalists include artists who work in a variety of mediums, from photography and film to assemblage, sculpture, and mixed-media installations.

2015 Finalist Bios

Aldwyth
South Carolina artist Aldwyth has worked in relative seclusion for several decades. She creates intricate collages and assemblages, often monumental in scale, from found objects, appropriated images, text, and other elements. Aldwyth was recently honored with a major one person traveling exhibition organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston.

Secrets of my Mind, 2015, by Aldwyth

Secrets of my Mind, 2015, by Aldwyth

Andrea Keys Connell
Sculptor Andrea Keys Connell creates figurative works that challenge conventional notions of monuments, statuary, and figurines. Using clay with other mixed media, her work has a strong narrative and emotive quality. Keys Connell lives in Richmond, Virginia where she serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Un-Home-Like, 2010, by Andra keys Connell

Un-Home-Like, 2010, by Andra keys Connell

Kevin Jerome Everson
Kevin Jerome Everson’s films utilize both scripted and documentary footage to examine the everyday lives of working class African Americans and other people of African descent. A prolific filmmaker, Everson has created both feature-length and short films characterized by a subtle, poetic quality. His work is included in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and is currently on view in the museum’s inaugural exhibition.

Ninety-Three, 2008, by Kevin Jerome Everson

Ninety-Three, 2008, by Kevin Jerome Everson

George Jenne
George Jenne is a video artist who combines moving images with the spoken word to create uniquely narrative films. His work explores the inner psyche of his characters, revealing the complex ideas and emotions underlying each individual. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Jenne currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Spooky Understand (installation detail), 2014, by George Jenne

Spooky Understand (installation detail), 2014, by George Jenne

Deborah Luster
Luster, who lives and works in New Orleans, Louisiana, turned to photography as a means to cope with the murder of her mother. She has created thousands of powerful, haunting portraits of prisoners housed in Louisiana. Her recent body of work captures desolate landscapes in New Orleans where murders have occurred.

"One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, 1998-2003, by Deborah Luster

One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, 1998-2003, by Deborah Luster

Ebony G. Patterson
The work of mixed-media artist Ebony G. Patterson investigates the complex relationships between gender, politics, beauty, race, and ritual in contemporary Jamaican culture. Her artistic practice combines painting, textiles, and installation work, often in large scale. A native of Jamaica, Patterson lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky, where she serves as an Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky.

Wata Marassa-Beyond the Bladez, 2014 by Ebony G. Patterson

Wata Marassa-Beyond the Bladez,
2014 by Ebony G. Patterson

“Seeing the prize grow this year—not only in the number of applications, but also in the level of diversity and range of artistic medium—has been like a dream come true for Society 1858,” says Society 1858 President Jamieson Clair.

To learn more about the prize please visit 1858prize.org.

The Art of Social Healing Through Sculpture and Public Art

In 2011, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel and S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal held a symposium in Charleston to mark the 50th anniversary of the Briggs v. Elliott ruling. This ruling led to the creation of a committee that raised about $125,000 to commission a statue to honor U.S. District Judge J. Waties Waring; the man whose anti-segregation rulings made him a pariah in his hometown, but set the table for the Civil Rights Movement.

In “‘A liberating force,’ Waring returns to Charleston” Post and Courier journalist Robert Behre writes that a dozen sculptors sought to create the bronze likeness of Waring, and Rick Weaver, a sculptor from Charlottesville, Va., won the commission. Mr. Weaver was kind enough to take the time to answer questions about his work and to describe the process of creating this important sculpture. Mr. Weaver will join artist Jonathan Green and Dr. Jeb Hallett on March 10 for a panel discussion on The Art of Social Healing Through Sculpture and Public Art at the Charleston Federal Courthouse on Broad Street.

Judge Waites Waring sculpture

Final version of the Judge Waties Waring sculpture

How did you originally get interested and trained in sculpture?

I actually received my training not in sculpture, but in drawing and painting in New York, and then received my graduate degree in painting at UNC-Greensboro.  Whether you are working in charcoal, paint, clay, or any other medium, the underlying principles in art do not vary.  So when I became more interested in sculpture, I was able to essentially teach myself the procedure. I gradually moved my focus to sculpture in the last 10 years because the ideas I wanted to express seemed to have ultimately more to do with creating a shape in space, and depended less on creating an illusion on a 2 dimensional surface.

Describe the process of how you got to know Waties Waring in order to design your statue of him?

I first read the biography “A Passion for Justice” to get a feel for the man and his accomplishments.  It was also very helpful to speak with members of the sculpture committee, who had a familiarity with his judicial and social history in Charleston. Ultimately, I feel I can only really know myself – I never feel that I can truly understand another person in any comprehensive way, and I therefore never feel capable of “capturing” someone else in a sculpture. What I do is try to identify some vital aspect of someone’s character that I also recognize in myself, and then try to make the sculpture about that emotion or idea. With Judge Waring, I identified very closely with the idea that he was embattled, and pressured to do things he knew were wrong. Yet he persevered in his own beliefs of what was right and was true to his nature, despite the condemnation of his peers. (Not that I equate his courage with anything I possess, but I think there is some modest echo of what he displayed in all of us). Most good sculptures ultimately rise above the individual depicted, his or her gender, race, and personal history, and touch on themes that are universal and felt by all humanity. To what degree I was successful in this attempt is for others to judge, but that was my goal with the Judge Waring sculpture.

Just how does one make a statue of this magnitude? Briefly describe the manufacturing process.

On the manufacturing end, I will say that very early on, for the reasons given above, it was clear the statue should be in a standing position, to show Judge Waring’s resolute physical stance as a powerful metaphor for the intellectual stance he took in his judicial decisions. I worked on a life-size scale in my studio, beginning with a foam and aluminum armature, and progressing to a wax modeling of the actual figure.  I have included images which may illustrate the process better than my words. This final sculpture was then put in the capable hands of Carolina Bronze Foundry who completed all casting processes necessary to convert my wax sculpture into the final bronze.

Rick Weaver's sculpture of Judge Waites Waring

Beginning stage of the Judge Waites Waring sculpture

Did this project in any way impact your own personal feelings about the Civil Rights Movement and the sacrifice of champions like Judge Waring?

My knowledge of American History, let alone the Civil Rights Movement, is not what it should be.  So I am always very thankful for the excuse to research historical figures to fill in the gaps of my early education. I always feel that if my initial schooling had centered on integrating academic subjects with art I would have retained a lot more information. In reading about Civil Rights heroes like Judge Waring, John Chavis, or Maggie Walker, I am struck by their relentless courage in the face of opposition. The example of fortitude in mere mortals, however elevated by history, makes that kind of courage more accessible to me in some way that I may not have felt if I had not read their histories.

Related articles:

A liberating force,’ Waring returns to Charleston by Robert Behre, Post and Courier

Judge J. Waties Waring: Charleston’s Insider Agitator by Robert Rosen, Post and Courier

Judge Remembered For Landmark Role He Played In Desegregating Schools by Bruce Smith, Huffington Post

Rick Weaver received his formal training in New York at the National Academy of Design, the New York Academy, and the Art Students League. He earned his Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where he was influenced by the sculptor Billy Lee.

Jonathan Green’s painting “Breath of Freedom,” depicts  a crowd of people outside the Charleston federal courthouse listening to the trial Briggs vs. Elliot. He donated a copy of this painting to every public high school in the Charleston County school district. Green’s painting was presented at the Hollings Judicial Center Garden on April 11, 2014, the same day as the Judge Waties Warning sculpture dedication.

This event is at full capacity but you can learn more about our Art of Healing series by signing up for our e-newsletter, following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and checking our online calendar.

Thank you to Dr. Jeb Hallett who formulated the questions for Mr. Weaver and who will be moderating Tuesday night’s panel discussion. The Art of Healing is sponsored by Roper St. Francis.

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