The Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville is, of course, known for its celebration and support of the performing arts, but the nonprofit organization also champions the visual arts. Inside the performing arts center is a gallery space where visitors can view works across mediums from budding artists and internationally established names. The current exhibition, which opened Oct. 23 at the Joy Pratt Markham Gallery, uses the mythology and the teachings of familiar tales many people grew up with as an abstract lens through which we might consider the complex times we currently face.
"My love is coming up with a theme and selecting artists whose work relates to that in a way that's going to challenge the viewer," shares curator Cynthia Nourse Thompson. "In a way, I feel that the exhibitions I curate are a narrative or a tale or a story themselves. Even by the way in which they're placed in the gallery and hung, how one informs the other creates an interesting relationship or narrative for the viewer to think about and contemplate."
‘Of Legends and Lore’
WHEN — On exhibit through Jan. 12; gallery hours are noon-2 p.m. Monday-Friday and one hour prior to most performances
WHERE — Joy Pratt Markham Gallery inside Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
COST — Free
INFO — 443-5600, waltonartscenter.org
"Of Legends and Lore" was born of Thompson's interest in storytelling and how interesting it can be to return to things one learned as a child and reexamine them with the experience of time. The exhibition functions in a similar way to many of the fairy tales we learn as children -- charming imagery of animals and nature and beauty draw one in, but with closer inspection, the viewer realizes there is often a darker narrative stirring beneath the surface.
"The artists are contemplating and examining psychological, ethical and social implications embodied in storytelling. And it's through various lenses -- it's feminism, mythology, social history and literature," Thompson explains. "I think these stories become more impactful as more historical events happen, as we've become adults, and we have different life lessons that we've learned that we now can look back on these tales and reflect on them in a different way."
Thompson shared a few more of her thoughts with What's Up! on four of the six lauded artists included in "Of Legends and Lore," on exhibit through Jan. 12.
"Kiki Smith is one of the artists in the exhibition who's very well known, who addresses these themes very, very in-your-face -- including the works where she examines the familiar tale 'Little Red Riding Hood' and explores the relationship between animals and humans, particularly wolves and humans. In other works, she is equating herself with Alice from Lewis Carroll's manuscript 'Alice's Adventures Underground' and she presents herself as Alice swimming in a pool of her own tears, as if navigating her own sorrow. So those, I think, really express the vulnerability of childhood as an underlying theme."
Beth Cavener Stichter
"Beth creates these gorgeously sculpted animal forms that focus really on human psychology, and they are stripped of context. They're isolated forms existing in space. On the surface, they simply look like a feral animal or domestic animal suspended in a moment of tension, but their gestures and expressions embody emotions of fear, empathy and longing. And so her works teeter on that edge between that which is animal and that which is human. So that's sort of uncomfortable."
"Her work is also narrative and uses animal form as personal metaphors. She is Native American and often, the work is a critique of the commercialization of Native culture, which is really interesting."
"Anne incorporates Native American medicine and culture [and often features] rabbits, owls, deer and mythological animals as subjects in her paintings. And she often draws inspiration from the 'Guide on Wildlife in Europe,' which features really interesting animal portraits and animal/human characters. She's been really interested in ceremony and the deep nurturing that nature provides."
NAN What's Up on 11/04/2018
Print Headline: An Artistic Tale