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March 2011

Caldwell Arts Council in Lenoir, NC, Offers Works by Jody Servon, Lorene Delany-Ullman, Michael Twery and Gregory Smith

Caldwell Arts Council in Lenoir, NC, will present the exhibit, All Shapes and Sizes, featuring photography by Jody Servon with poetry by Lorene Delany-Ullman; "Mikigami" series by Michael Twery and paintings by Gregory Smith, on view from Mar. 4 - 25, 2011. A reception will be held on Mar. 4, from 5-7:30pm.

Saved, featuring photography by Jody Servon, is an honest and moving photographic and poetic exploration of the sometimes funny but always poignant human experience of life, death, and memory. The work is candid and direct in its approach to a topic Americans avoid talking about even though it is an experience we all inevitably share: the death of a loved one. The project addresses how memories of the dead are deeply rooted in everyday objects, and how those objects serve as the emblematic means to transport those memories to the living.

Saved was conceived when Servon’s father and three friends died within a single year. She was affected by how people bearing similar loss openly shared stories of their loved ones with her. Previously, Servon had photographed her grandfather’s dentures, and was intrigued by how the image resonated with viewers. This observation led her to borrow objects from the bereaved, and photograph the modest effects, mementoes, and heirlooms held onto after the death of a loved one. Each item, ranging from a below-the-knee prosthetic leg to an old Atlantic City slot machine, was photographed on a seamless white background, focusing on the wear apparent on each surface. It was important for each object to have a unique presence, thus the scale of each photo was based on the personality of that item.

Because the photos often raised questions, Servon sought collaboration with poet Lorene Delany-Ullman. Prose poems written by Delany-Ullman provide insight into the objects, the lives and deaths of the deceased loved ones, and the places of those objects in the memories and lives of the people who saved them. Through interviews, the new object-owners were asked to describe their relationship with the deceased, any distinguishing characteristics or traits of that person, a memorable occasion or event shared between them, and what makes that object special.
Based on the interviewees’ responses, Delany-Ullman crafted prose poems, which chronicle the relationships between the new and original object owners, their lives and deaths. While the items may be functional, and are sometimes utilized in daily life, their value is based in their memorial function: their ability to keep the dead alive in the minds of their new owners.

Michael Twery offered the following statement about his works, "My concerns as a painter cover a variety of interests and processes. As a result, I work on four different bodies of work that each allow me to express myself in very different ways. I find that alternating my method of working helps strengthen my abilities in each different area. I have always been fascinated by the shape and quality of light and how it creates environment and mood. I also work with implied meanings of shape and color, context of subject matter , surface quality and sheer painterliness in a painting. I often incorporate glow in the dark paint to add another viewing dimension to my work."

'The 'Mikigami' series reflects my fascination with taking everyday mundane objects out of their normal context and seeing them in a different way; with their shape playing an important role in how they are viewed," adds Twery. "The paintings are careful observations and representations of real objects, yet often at first glance look very abstract. The shapes made from folded candy wrappers suggest other objects and forms which vary depending on different viewers own imaginations. The 'Mikigami' paintings are all acrylics on cut out signboard. The edges of each piece are painted with phosphorescent paint so the cut out shapes glow in the dark. I work with cut-outs because I think the irregular shapes strengthen identification of the painting as an object."

Gregory L. Smith offered the following statement about his works, "My primary inspiration are the physical proprieties of paint. Paint is fluid, plastic and has dimensionality. All of these aspects can be explored and exploited. Paint may rendered in all levels of opacity, value and tone. As a medium paint is unique. Its properties are infinite in their application and ability to create illusion, mood response and context."

"Formal concerns aside, my subjects and content range as far as an old iron lock, to the visual expression of the Golden Ratio," add Smith. "The work is rendered with limited depth, realistic and rendered in a limited palette. All of these aspects are influenced by Trompe L'oiel American painters of the early twentieth century. I am particularly moved by the work John Peto and John Haberle."

"The combination of these formal and stylistic concerns continues to inspire and push me to explore. Nothing is off limits, nothing out of bounds. I hope to continue to work around these concerns for many years to come."

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Arts Council at 704/754-2486 or visit (


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