Four Artists Join Creative Forces to Exhibit at Spartanburg Co-op
Through their art, four Upstate South Carolina artists come together in the exhibition Convergence to showcase their paintings and ceramics at West Main Artists Co-op in Spartanburg. Convergence features a diverse body of work created by Susan B. Eleazer, Marcy Fedalei, Amy Holbein, and Nancy Williamson. Life experiences, travels, reflections, and experimentations have led the artists down different artistic pathways and inspired them to create the variety of art that is brought together in this exhibition.
The extensive exhibit of both 2-D and 3-D works of art will be free for public viewing Sept. 3-28, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. An opening reception will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, 5-8 p.m. An additional reception will be during the city’s monthly ArtWalk, Thursday, Sept. 19, 5-9 p.m. Both receptions will be free and open to the public. Because of the large number of pieces on display, they will be housed in two galleries at the Co-op’s West Main Street location. Prices range from $25 to $800.
“Throughout the planning of this project, it has been a real joy to put this show together with the other artists,” Williamson said. “We met once a month, sharing lunch, art, and personal perspectives. What we hope is that people will see that art can be a great unifier of people, ideas and creativity.”
Williamson is a founding member of West Main Artists Co-op and currently serves as vice-chair of the management board. She is an established potter and ceramicist known for her functional pottery. “My work for this show is more decorative and the forms are more sculptural than my usual work,” she said. “Inspiration has come from my desire to explore new surface design techniques, particularly the layering and carving of colored slips. Much of this work is process driven – it started with careful experimentation to develop a palate of custom-colored slips and then loosened to explore color combinations and mark-making techniques. Everything is one-of-a-kind and includes both functional vessels and decorative stacked ceramic totems.
“I hope patrons will get a sense of the joy I feel, in my constant search for ‘what if,’ as I explore different three-dimensional forms, decorative techniques, and the technical side of the work in developing slips and glazes,” Williamson said.
Both Fedalei’s and Holbein’s works were largely inspired by recent journeys to the Nepalese Himalaya mountains.
Fedalei, also a ceramicist, has created pieces drawn through observation and encounters with the culture and natural beauty of Himalayan mountain life. Fedalei stated: “My inspiration for this show draws primarily from recent travels to a vastly different part of the world, and experiencing the struggle for economic independence and connection to the rest of the world, the daily life as imposed by nature and circumstances. In this region, two religions converge, two belief systems converge, and two caste systems converge along with their integration with the modern world.”
Fedalei was particularly fascinated with the prevalence and usefulness of yaks, as a source of food, supply transportation and heating fuel in the higher regions. It so intrigued Fedalei that she smuggled some yak hair back home to incorporate into her work. Fedalei’s work is primarily hand-built functional pieces. For this show, she deviates to include wall art, and to explore the ancient Japanese firing technique of raku in which she decorates some of her work using the yak hair to burn designs onto her ceramics. “I hope that viewers find my work to be both fun and functional and can appreciate how clay can connect man and earth.” Fedalei also teaches yoga and considers working with clay to be a part of her yoga practice. She has been a member of WMAC since 2016.
Like Fedalei, Holbein’s inspiration for this exhibit came from her travels. “The inspiration for this body of work comes from a recent trip to Nepal, where I trekked for three weeks through the Khumbu Valley in the Himalaya Mountains,” she said. “The pieces for this show include oil paintings and cold wax oil paintings. The subject matter is taken from scenes of everyday life of the Nepalese people.”
Holbein is a guest artist in the exhibition. She has extensive professional experience, including two degrees in art, being a designer in Switzerland, teaching art on the college level, and having work displayed by Spartanburg Art Museum, Anderson Art Center, The Martha Cloud Chapman Gallery, Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg, and Winthrop University. “Even though I work at my studio at home, I have a relationship with WMAC,” she explained. “That connection comes through friendships with several of the WMAC artists, participation in workshops and figure drawing sessions hosted by the Co-op.
“New in these paintings is the use of palette knives and scraping tools as the primary instrument for applying the paint,” she said. “I have also become bolder with the use of impasto and surface texture. The work covers a range of abstract to figurative images and employs a saturated palette.”
The works exhibited in Convergence by Susan B. Eleazer represent a shift from encaustic as her main art medium to cold wax oil painting. Eleazer said, “Cold wax medium when added to oil paint changes its characteristics in such a way that I felt drawn to the medium instantly upon being introduced to it. Consisting of beeswax and a solvent, the medium, when mixed with oil paint, gives the paint a creamy texture that can be applied to a rigid surface like spreading butter. It also decreases the drying time of the paint.” Eleazer’s works feature vigorous mark-making and the layering of colors and textures. She utilizes a wide variety of tools such as Xacto knives and tweezers in subtractive methods to excavate layers and expose colors. Eleazer continued, “I work intuitively and allow the materials to dictate my direction - the cold wax method is a natural fit for me. The subject matter of these abstract pieces relies heavily on events and landscapes from my early childhood – I attempt to distill these in an impressionistic manner. The painting, Firewall, depicts what remains in memory of the day when, as a five year old child, I set the yard on fire!” Within this work and others can be seen a noted departure from her usual palette in the extensive use of more intense colors. Eleazer hopes that the viewer will respond to the formalistic qualities of her work that can often verge on decorative.
After retiring from a career as a visual arts teacher, Eleazer has had the privilege of traveling extensively and making art in her home studio. She has been a member of the Co-op since 2016 and maintains a studio there that she uses as a personal art gallery.
“Our ‘convergence’ as artists with unique perspectives has been a wonderful experience,” Eleazer said. “We have shared ourselves with each other toward a common goal, and this exhibition represents not just four very different artistic perspectives, but how artists share a desire to communicate through creativity. In some cases, it is obvious. In others, you have to look deeper. Anyone who sees this exhibit, will leave with a better understanding of what it means to combine talents while maintaining individuality.”
West Main Artists Co-op is one of Spartanburg’s leading nonprofit arts agencies. It is membership-based with about 30 of the more than 50 members having individual studio space in what was once a three-story Baptist church. Today, the venue has three galleries, two performance stages, a printery, a ceramics studio, and the largest collection of for-sale art in the city and county. All of the members are juried with most being visual artists; some are performance artists. For more information, please visit online: WestMainArtists.org.
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