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May 2011

SECCA in Winston-Salem, NC, Features Works by Aaron Spangler and Alison Elizabeth Taylor

The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-salem, NC, is presenting American Gothic: Aaron Spangler & Alison Elizabeth Taylor, an exhibition of two mid-career artists translating Renaissance era techniques and the humble medium of wood into a powerful reflection on the rise and fall of rural America. The exhibition will be on view through Aug. 21, 2011.

American Gothic arranges an artistic and ideological dialogue between Minnesota-based Aaron Spangler and Alabama-born, Las Vegas-raised Alison Elizabeth Taylor. Drawing upon personal memories and experiences, these artists forge a renovated portrait of America’s fringes by combining folk traditions, craft techniques and political critique. From surreal forests and foreclosed houses to parade regalia and alienated youth, Spangler and Taylor create transitory portraits of haunted places.

“This exhibition pushes traditional craft techniques into a provocative intersection between tribute, satire and manifesto,” says SECCA’s Curator of Contemporary Art Steven Matijcio. He adds, “Spangler and Taylor employ masterful skills to open up difficult, but necessary perspectives on the challenges faced by cities where traditional industries, values and ideals are shifting by the second.”

Spangler creates darkly comic visions with large, intricate relief sculptures carved out of basswood and rubbed with graphite. Ranging in scale from small tabletop scenes and elaborate wall panels to freestanding sculptures and totems that weigh nearly a ton, he turns medieval folklore into outrageous spectacle. A more monotonous, seedy world plays out in the veneer “paintings” of Taylor, who breathes new life into the historic inlay technique known as marquetry (or intarsia). Across a wide spectrum of exotic woods, she cuts, trims and presses hundreds of small pieces into elaborate compositions that meditate on the shrinking frontiers of the American southwest.

At 2pm on June 11, 2011, SECCA will present another Talk @ SECCA by Winston- Salem photographer Carl Galie related to the exhibition. This free talk explores the relationship between art, industry and the environment. Throughout our nation’s history the arts have been instrumental in protecting many of our national treasures. In his recent project, Lost on the Road to Oblivion, The Vanishing Beauty of Coal Country, Galie hopes to continue this legacy. The images take the viewer on a journey through the southern Appalachians and document the controversial practice of mountaintop removal in this hauntingly beautiful series about the natural environment. The project raises the question of whether years of environmental regulation should be overruled in an attempt to stimulate the economy by allowing this industrial coal mining practice to continue.

This Talk @ SECCA on June 11, is part of North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources 2nd Saturdays. 2nd Saturdays includes more than 100 events that bring together history and authentic North Carolina culture. Events will take place at all 37 of the Department of Cultural Resources’ museums and Historic Sites on June 11, July 9 and Aug. 13, 2011. Each site will have its own stylized theme; and many sites will have artists and/or musicians.

On Thursday, June 23, 2011, exhibition artist Alison Elizabeth Taylor will give a free Talk @ SECCA at 7pm. Drawing upon her background in underground comics and alternative communities, she will discuss the translation of intensely meticulous techniques into enigmatic narratives during this insightful gallery talk.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Center at 336/725-1904 or visit (

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