Clemson University Blogs

“Sourcing New Mentors” at CVA Greenville

CVA Greenville

by Jackie Kuntz Published in The Tiger Newspaper

“Move a little bit to the left and turn more towards me…and then hold your hand… yes!”

I walked four paces across the lacquered gallery floor and assumed the new pose as Elizabeth Snipes began her quick gestured mark making, hand dancing zealously across the cream colored paper she sat atop.

I was told to write an article on the new Center for Visual Arts gallery space in Greenville and the alumni show that would premier it. I drove in on Friday to the West Village Art district to take a look at the show just to be invited back the next day; Elizabeth Snipes needed a model for another piece she was adding to her showcase. I could not pass up an opportunity to engage in such dialogue with one of the featured artists and to spend more time with the work I would report on. What I got to witness and take part in on my trip back was wildly edifying.

The title and mantra of Clemson’s Art exhibit “Sourcing New Mentors,” suites the group of artists, all Clemson M.F.A. graduates who were at some point instructors and assistant professors for foundation studio classes.  This show consists of collages and installations by Marty Epp-Carter, paintings and drawing by Michael Marks, video and photography by Zane Logan, and mixed media drawings by Elizabeth Snipes. Theprogram coordinator, Eugene Ellenberg, also a Clemson Graduate, knows the various relationships among the body of work best, finding similarities in the “intersections of individual and societal engagement with natural arenas and or spiritual consequences.”

Given the space for two months, the artists were invited to continually add to and change the exhibit as the weeks persist.  On day one of my visit, I walked in to see the space lit up with lights and umbrellas for a photo shoot- Zane Logan was buzzing around, rearranging a still life and calculating the correct exposure; I had just missed Michael Marks whose over sized easel and paints were pulled out into the middle of the space, patient for his return. During my return the next day, Elizabeth Snipes responded to the space by recording the movement and negative space relationship of a gallery goer as they moved up and down and across the room, even inches away from where she sat cross-legged on the floor, pastels and acrylics scattered about her.  During this session, Marty Epp-Carter toted in a number of copper pipes which, once she set up camp, proceeded to sand and cut for an installation that would reflect the old building’s history and an interview with the original owner, which she listened to ardently with headphones as she labored away.  The artists were obviously excited about the freedom this kind of  transitory show embodied-morphing and developing as they each meditated on the space’s characteristics, history, and creative potential, toying with this muse and running with these inspirations.  Ellenberg described the success this invitation  has to offer, “their creative research overlaps investigations of past and present human and environmental experiences.”

Logan’s photographic work embodies artistic exploration.  From the documentation of the subtle sounds of nature to the captured thicket of forested landscape, the viewer is compelled to watch reverently silent as the creek trickles by, giving way to the artist’s slow crawling ripples as he wades through.  It is a wise saying, “you never step in the same river twice,” and once should visit Logan’s work as such.

For Epp-Carter, no material is left unchallenged: graph paper, textured rubbings, wood cuts prints, ink blots, cut outs, and colored pencil- he collage’s peculiarities own their propensity to intrigue.  The written captions under the works confound, construe, and yet still further expound the conceptual potential of the pieces, which are layered with imagery.

Marks has a true hand of an old master: the flawless blending of paint and rendered cracked surfaces emanate the quality of 14th century frescos.  What looks like the work of Cimabue or Giotto undeniably stakes its claim on the contemporary front with its evocative and unsettling imagery.  Mark seems to have two lines of work displayed in the gallery. One visually references the biologically absurd- figures or perhaps macro views of body parts, wrapped and writhing, struggle to find anatomical context.  The body of work that seems to circa the pre-renaissance Madonna and Childs or the Victorian portraiture of children are either haunting or sullenly plaintive. Beautifully rendered but without faces, these figures are silences to nothing but muffles yet the cast shadows fall across these voids as if something there was.

Snipes hones in on the figure: it’s movement, its placement within a space, and its contemporary relevance in art despite its roots in art historical traditionalism.  What she calls “personal territories” is dynamic- competing place of vivid colors join or project from the irrepressibly ebullient contours that animate the subject drawn; each movement, gesture, shift and thought are recorded. Every mannerism and personality of line is employed as the final product heralds the artist’s gestural sketched style.

The exhibit’s reception will take place on November 1st during Greenville’s First Friday art walk, a monthly event for which over 25 galleries and artist studios in downtown Grenville open their doors to the public for a night of music, food, and culture.

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