6 months ago

Nature, Repetitions, and Evoking Memory and History Through AAWS

Associated Artists of Winston Salem’s (AAWS) President Margaret Webster-Shapiro was so kind to invite me to the AAWS’s most recent reception: Nature and Repetitions on June 17. Each work included in this reception took inspiration from vegetation, wildlife, and the natural landscape.

I attended this reception with my mother, who has supported my writing journey since I started in high school. It was exciting to share this experience with her. As we walked through the gallery together, she would talk to me about her interpretations of the pieces.

For example, Seeland-Bern by Deborah Patterman depicts a landscape of lush hills and yellow flowers. The work connected with me because it vaguely reminded me of the scenery of our family farmhouse in rural North Carolina. It reminded my mother of the same, but for her it's fond memories of what the land used to look like there—with acres upon acres of tended fields, the land reflecting the craft my great-great-grandparents dedicated their lives to. While this anecdote is rather personal, it reflects the true theme of the reception, evoking memory and history through nature and being able to deeply connect with each work as both a reflection of the artist’s craft and the engagement with the audience.

"Stars over the Grandfather Mountain". Kathryn Greeven.

While a lot of painters had their work on display, there were a variety of mediums such as colored pencils, stained glass, and photography. Stars over the Grandfather Mountain by Kathryn Greeven uses photography to depict the curved path of stars at night while the Earth rotates. This can only be seen in an area with low light pollution, tying nicely with my takeaway of the theme—that our perception of nature is highly based on what kind of environment we are exposed to. While Greeven was not at the reception, her photograph was truly impactful and I hope to catch her at the next one in August.

"Meerkat Lookout". Emily Cassidy.

Emily Cassidy works at one of the local hospitals when she is not out taking reference photos and working on her illustrations. The reference for her work, Meerkat Lookout, was taken at the Louisville Zoo. She began dipping her toe into the Winston-Salem art community during the pandemic by taking classes at Forsyth Tech and watching videos online to improve her skills. While exploring different media, Emily found the use of colored pencils to be therapeutic. The dedication towards this medium in her works shows upon first glance of the piece; my mother and I were shocked to find it was not a photograph. Emily is now a part of the AAWS and the Colored Pencils Society of North Carolina. She currently has 16 works shown in galleries and displayed in zoos and aquariums around the state.

"Waiting for the High Tide". Harry Respess.

Harry Respess began his journey in art as a hobby and has since embraced this as a career after retirement. He was drawn to watercolor as his preferred medium because he can bring out the most detail with it than any other. His creative process involves taking trips with his wife, who photographs references for him. His piece Waiting for the High Tide is a combination of six different photos his wife took from different locations on the east coast. Each image has an element that Harry wanted to incorporate into the final work, so the piece became a blend of multiple east coast coastal locations, emphasizing the cohesive beauty of the landscape and its history. In addition, his title could be interpreted as an allusion to his journey as an artist, as he discussed the struggles behind giving up art for five to six years due to tremors. After getting surgery, however, he has since started back up and continues to flourish as an artist.

"Atomic Galaxy Blooms". Val Hutcheon /Valentina.

The reception was overall a wonderful experience full of incredibly talented and passionate artists. It was a perfect opportunity to explore their beautiful pieces in their full glory. From floral centerpiece paintings to shipwrecked landscapes, the group proved to flourish under the theme of “Nature, Repetitions.” Their next larger exposition will be from August 9 to October 15 with the theme of “Books.” Each piece in their next reception will include works inspired by the dynamism and creativity of these writings. The AAWS expect artists will become transcribers for this event b y reflecting the creativity and adventure from the plots of various works. I look forward to seeing their stories unfold as well.

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