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As It Lingers

Spartanburg Artist, Teacher to Exhibit Thought-Provoking Paintings

Spartanburg artist Claire Louka will present her exhibit “As It Lingers” at West Main Artists Co-op Feb. 5-28, showing a collection of paintings that explore transient moments in the human condition.

The exhibit of more than 25 colorful and thought-provoking images will be open for free public viewing Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Her reception will be Thursday, Feb. 15, 5-9 p.m. during the city’s monthly ArtWalk, when many of the local galleries stay open late allowing the public an evening opportunity to see the latest art on display in Spartanburg. Louka will be one of three artists exhibiting at West Main Artists Co-op.

Louka is an art teacher in Spartanburg’s public school system. Much of her work is characterized by stylized and vivid people in settings that cause curious contemplation. “Some would describe me as an expressionist, some illustrative: I would call myself a narrative expressionist,” she said. “I am an expressionist with illustrative line work, my figures are very distinctly mine and somewhat caricature. There is a lot of energy and movement in my use of color and brushwork, and my figures often depict expressions of contemplation. They are observers and thinkers. I don’t take myself too seriously though, I often include humorous elements in my work to lighten the mood of those deep thoughts.”

Louka’s two-dimensional works are primarily produced with acrylics, but she also uses mixed media, such as inks, graphite, pastels, and charcoal. In describing this exhibit, she said: “(My) expressive, narrative paintings focus on transient moments connected to the human condition. Even in the absence of human figures, a human presence is implied and emotion evoked. The exaggerated gestures and earnest expressions of the figures draw curiosity toward what must be on their mind. I communicate the lingering sentiments of these characters by immersing them in familiar scenes embedded with descriptive imagery. In the work selected for the current exhibit the characters occupy an altered reality scattered with expressive elements that set the scene for the questions and thoughts that come after the moment has passed. I invite viewers to ponder the relationships of the imagery to the body language of the figures when making their own presumptions of the various narratives that could be told.”

Louka is a native of Spartanburg, who nows lives on the east side of town. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Clemson University and a master’s degree in art education from Lander University. She is National Board Certified in Early and Middle Childhood Art. She has taught at the Cleveland Academy of Leadership and is currently teaching at Jesse Boyd Elementary. Also, she is an adjunct art history instructor at Spartanburg Community College.

The work in this exhibit will range in size from 8 by 10 inches to 48 by 42 inches. It will be priced from $75 to $750. The majority of the paintings were created during the past few months, however, a few were created as long ago as three years.

“Each painting carries its own stories,” she said. “There is no one correct interpretation. My work is created very intuitively and subconsciously. I let each element lead me to the next, and when the work is complete the message is very clear to me what my mind was solving. I expect this to be true and unique to each viewer as well. I want them to ponder and use their intuition, to pull meaning uniquely significant to them – go deep to connect with their emotions that we sometimes feel the need to keep to ourselves, because the human condition will always influence our state of mind. Once life’s emotional queries are expressed and out in the open we are often able to move on. The overarching theme of the exhibit ‘As it Lingers,’ expresses the message of lingering thoughts, feelings, emotions, and questions, whether it be seconds or years after a fleeting moment passes us by. I have included many images of birds in my current work, presenting the idea of migration and moving on, forward. However, not all birds migrate. Also, these birds have held significant cultural symbolism over the course of our human history and I am completely aware of each birds symbolism when including them in my work. I also use other animal symbolism as well as color and various other imagery.”

Her advice to people who see her exhibit is — “Only wonder what I was thinking for fun. It’s what you take from it that really matters. And these are always my intentions. It will be much like a room filled with people, they can expect to see a range of expressions, stories, energy and emotion but all relatable to one and other."

For a preview of Louka’s work, please visit online: ArtWanted.com/claire.