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December Issue 2010

Pickens County Museum of Art & History in Pickens, SC, Offers Three New Exhibits

The Pickens County Museum of Art & History in Pickens, SC, will present three new exhibits including: Shutter / Shuttle, featuring black & white photography by Brain S. Kelley exhibited alongside woven tapestries made by Connie Lippert;

Shutter/Shuttle is a unique pairing of what some may think is an unlikely duo will pleasantly surprise the viewer with its continuity and kinship. The gray-scaled photographic exploration of positive and negative relationships in light and shadow is well mirrored by the stark contrast of the hard-edged color boundaries created in the wedge weave tapestries. Both bodies of work embrace, through shape and line, humankind's awe of, and influence upon, the natural world. The visually pure derivations of the environment around us tend to move toward the abstract, allowing the viewer to create their own allusion.

Brain S Kelley

Now living in Travelers Rest, SC, Brain S. Kelley is a multi-faceted photographic artist who is as comfortable with fine art photography as he is in photojournalism and studio portraiture. The exhibit features some of Kelley's most recent black & white work, but he is also well known for his work with Polaroid transfers, cyanotypes, gum dichromate and hand tinting as well as his carpentry and frame-making.

Kelley's studies have included work at Erskine College, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Greenville Technical College. He received his BA in IDS: Studio and Art History from the University of South Carolina.

"Visual interpretations of my surroundings have been essential elements of expression throughout my life," said Kelley. "My passion for art surfaced at a very young age, yielding another channel for communication. Through the lens of introversion I became an observer of life." He continued, "I often watch interactions among people, appreciate the forms created by nature or study the light as it moves through the day. These observations were first recorded through my drawings, which quickly led to painting, and then sculpture. However, photography would eventually receive the majority of my time and efforts.

Kelley has shown in numerous regional exhibitions including Beyond the Lens at Village Studios Gallery and Artisphere's Artists of the Upstate. He has also shown in several Upstate Visual Arts Exhibits, Greenville's Oliver Yu Gallery and at TRAM Gallery (now Trillium) in Travelers Rest. His work has been seen in several Pickens County Museum's Annual Juried Shows as well as their Critters: Animals, Nature & Man exhibition. His published work can be found in Greenville Magazine, Metro Beat, Bold Life Magazine, Spartanburg Herald Journal, Metro Mix, Link and Mountain Express as well as on CD & DVD covers for Vizz Tone Records, Woodward Studios and Plantation One Records. He was featured in the "2010 AT&T SC African American History Calendar."

Connie Lippert

Connie Lippert, born in Tuskegee, AL, and now living in Seneca, SC, weaves tapestries using the wedge weave technique and yarns hand-dyed with natural materials. She received her BS in Botany from Auburn University in 1979 and a MS in Soil Science from the University of California in 1981.

Wedge weave is a tapestry weave practiced by the Navajo in the late 1800's. In contrast to most weaving which is woven horizontally on the loom, wedge weave is woven on the diagonal, giving it a characteristic scalloped edge.

When asked about her weavings Lippert shared, "My work celebrates nature and the spirit that reveres the natural world. My message is one of environmental respect and protection." She went on to say, "The colors are derived from natural dyes - mainly indigo, madder, goldenrod, cochineal, and black walnut. Through my work with natural dyes, I have become aware of the rich local history of indigo, once considered blue gold in the state of South Carolina. All my yarns are hand-dyed using indigo leaves from my garden, goldenrod gathered in the fall, black walnut hulls from a friend's tree, and other commercially available natural dyes."

Lippert also works as an artist-in-residence in South Carolina public schools and has taught weaving to thousands of children through residencies, summer art camp and classroom activities. She has presented seminars and workshops for adults at national and regional conferences.

Lippert's tapestries have been in major national exhibitions including Craft National and Crafts National in Pennsylvania, Celebration of American Crafts, USA Craft Today, and Craft USA in Connecticut, Contemporary Crafts in Arizona, the LaGrange National in Georgia and many more. She has been the recipient of three artist grants from the South Carolina Arts Commission. Her work is represented in museum, corporate, academic and private collections nationwide and has been published in Fiberarts Design Book 7, Line in Tapestry, Fiberarts magazine, Handwoven magazine and in Shuttle, Spindle, and Dyepot (the magazine of the Handweavers Guild of America).

s Melissa Earley

Melissa Earley: 10+ (A Decade of Beadwork and Other Art) is an exhibition of beadwork and paintings spanning more than a decade and highlighting the most significant works from the career of Earley. Known for her beadwork which merges an ancient Native American bead weaving technique with original, contemporary imagery, Earley grew up in Charleston, SC, and has been living and working in Spartanburg, SC, since 2000. She studied drawing and printmaking at the College of Charleston, where she received a BA in Studio Art.

Earley began working with beads over 15 years ago as an independent jewelry designer and was soon studying traditional Native America loom weaving techniques. She incorporated her own paintings and drawings into small beaded pieces, and over the course of the following years, began learning off-loom stitches and expanding her works into much larger, three dimensional pieces.

About her work, Earley says, "The common theme is introspection. For me, making art is basically a form of therapy, a way of examining my own psyche, sometimes exorcising some demons, and communicating my thoughts, feelings and experiences to others."

Despite the often bright colors and seemingly whimsical images in much of her work, much of the work does examine difficult themes, such as illness and death. Earley explains, "Grief is one of those experiences that we all share, and yet there is still something of a taboo in talking about it publicly. Emotional pain makes others uncomfortable and keeps us somewhat relegated to the outside until we 'get over it'. And yet it's absolutely natural and very necessary to the healing process, so I wanted to bring it out into the light and share my experience with the viewer, with the hope that we will both feeling less alone."

Earley's work can be found in private and corporate collections across the country. She has participated in exhibitions in Dallas, Denver, and across the Southeast, receiving numerous awards and grants. She is proud to be an original member of CAFfeine Contemporary Art Forum, based in upstate South Carolina.

Barbara St Denis

The final featured exhibition is Barbara St Denis: Mixed Media. St. Denis, living in Easley, SC, is a signature member of the Georgia Watercolor Society and the Southern Watercolor Society. She is also a member in Excellence of the South Carolina Watermedia Society. In 1976 Barbara established The Art Emporium, a retail art store & gallery that she owns in Easley, SC.

Over the years St. Denis has received numerous awards and has been included in a wide variety of invitational exhibitions. Her work has been covered several times in publications such as Creative Watercolor, Best of Watercolor ­ Volume III, Best of Watercolor ­ Painting Color, Creative Watercolor and in Mary Todd Beam's Celebrate Your Creative Self. In 2008 St. Denis was invited to paint a Christmas ornament for one of the White House Christmas trees, which remains in its permanent Washington, DC, collection.

Speaking about her work, St. Denis says, "Color, design, the figure, buildings and inanimate objects are the primary elements of my paintings. Symbols and shapes which represent my personal artistic journey, i.e. my fascination with clocks and numbers, enable me to tell my story without portraying the final chapter. These elements are painted in watercolor, acrylic, and/or other water based materials in an abstract format." She added, "Watermedia has been my medium of choice since the early 1980'8. Prior to that time, starting in 1963, I worked in oil, pen and ink and pastels. Most recently I have included found collage elements in much of my work. I am an emotional painter and it is my desire to convey that idea to the viewer."

The Pickens County Museum of Art & History is funded in part by Pickens County, members and friends of the museum and a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings or call the Museum at 864/898-5963.


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