Feature Articles

November 2013

Burroughs-Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, SC, Features Works by Celia Pearson, Jon Riis, Richard Mafong and Mike Harrison

The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, SC, is presenting two new exhibits including: Celia Pearson: Glass Transformed, A Photographer Explores Sea Glass, on view through Dec. 29, 2013, and The Opulent Object: Tapestries by Jon Riis with Sculpture by Richard Mafong and Mike Harrison, on view through Jan. 5, 2014.

Humans have recycled materials since ancient times, turning waste into new products. But nature is also a master recycler, especially when it comes to glass objects that have been discarded into the oceans. The abrasive action of water and sand, manipulated by currents and tides, and the chemistry of the ocean environment can create unique textures on the surfaces of glass items that human technology would be hard-pressed to create. And exposure to sunlight often results in color changes in the glass itself, turning once-clear glass to subtle and unique hues. Collectors prize these nature-made works of “sea glass,” and delight in the quest to identify their origins.

Nationally known photographer Celia Pearson was commissioned to produce 150 images of the sea glass collection of Marylanders Richard and Nancy LaMotte - comprising some 30,000 pieces for their 2004 book Pure Sea Glass. Since then these small treasures, including collections from Italy and Spain, have been an enduring inspiration for Pearson. A selection of her intriguing photographs is featured in an exhibition titled Celia Pearson: Glass Transformed, A Photographer Explores Sea Glass.

Produced with archival inkjet technology, Pearson’s photographs can be as large as thirty inches in size, offering the viewer a surprising and surreal view as tiny pieces of colored glass assume the appearance of massive sculptures.

Pearson observes, “I came to experience sea glass as a photographer rather than a collector. I have always been compelled by its physical beauty. Part of the beauty of sea glass is that it has its own light. Light makes these bits of sea glass come alive.”

Observing her own images, Pearson adds that they are often about order, balance and harmony. “I see this glass not only through the lens of my camera but also through the lens of my own particular passions. Regardless of how they came to be, you will see these images through the lens of your own particular passions, and thereby this glass will be, once again, transformed.”

Throughout history, humans have coveted material things that are luxurious, rich in color or texture, adorned with gemstones and other rare materials, and meticulously crafted: in short, opulent objects.

Three artists offer their versions of opulence in an exhibit titled The Opulent Object: Tapestries by Jon Riis with Sculpture by Richard Mafong and Mike Harrison. More than 40 tapestries and 20 sculptures are featured in the exhibition.

Internationally known fiber artist Jon Riis creates tapestries using techniques dating to antiquity, many of them using precious materials such as metallic and silk thread, or with added embellishments of freshwater pearls, crystal and coral beads. His works frequently display a wry sense of humor and irony. For example, his three-dimensional Deadly Treat is a woven depiction of a wrapped Chinese candy that was reported to contain harmfully high amounts of melamine poisoning in 2008.

Riis is the recipient of numerous awards, including two National Endowment for the Arts grants and a Fulbright grant. His tapestries are included in many museums’ permanent collections, including The Louvre, the Art Institute of Chicago, the American Craft Museum in New York and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Museum of Art in Washington, DC.

Sculptors Richard Mafong and Mike Harrison worked collaboratively to design and create the metal and metal-wood objects in the exhibition. Though these luxurious objects were initially created from elemental materials, they have been made opulent by the addition of gemstones, rare woods, gold and silver. The artists’ works reference myths, beliefs and ideals of past cultures and examine issues of identity, life, and the human condition.

Richard Mafong is Professor Emeritus of Jewelry and Metalsmithing at Georgia State University. His works have been exhibited at museums and institutions throughout North America and abroad, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and the High Museum in Atlanta, GA.

Mike Harrison fabricates patterns for the cast-metal industry. He creates art works made of wood or a combination of wood and other materials such as metal, plastic, silicone, epoxy and fiberglass. Such objects often form the molds for cast-metal production items used in automation, aerospace and agricultural equipment. Besides the works in this collection, Mafong and Harrison have created many works for private and institutional commissions.
The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum is a wholly nonprofit institution located across from Springmaid Pier in Myrtle Beach. Components of Museum programs are funded in part by support from the City of Myrtle Beach, the Horry County Council and the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 843/238-2510 or visit (www.MyrtleBeachArtMuseum.org).

[ | November 2013 | Feature Articles | Download Carolina Arts' Current Issue | Carolina Arts Unleashed | Home | ]







Carolina Arts is published monthly by Shoestring Publishing Company, a subsidiary of PSMG, Inc. Copyright© 1987-2013 by PSMG, Inc. which published Charleston Arts from July 1987 - December 1994 and South Carolina Arts from January 1995 - December 1996. It also published Carolina Arts Online, Copyright© 1998 - 2013 by PSMG, Inc. All rights reserved by PSMG, Inc. or by the authors of articles. Reproduction or use without written permission is strictly prohibited.