Grouping the selections featured in this year’s “From These Hills: Contemporary Art in the Southern Appalachian Highlands” exhibition under a curatorial banner would be a difficult task.
But several undercurrents connect the seemingly disparate collection of works, on display at the William King Museum: Center for Art and Cultural Heritage in Abingdon, Va., through Feb. 19, 2012.
“From These Hills” is a biennial exhibition that celebrates the diverse artistic talent in the region by featuring a variety of creations from artists in Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.
“This exhibition is a rarity in our current climate by affording artists who live in a nearby geographical radius to showcase their impressive talents,” said guest curator Amy G. Moorefield, Director and Chief Curator of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University. “I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the several applications and feel incredibly fortunate to have an enhanced appreciation for the artistic endeavors of individuals ‘from these hills.’ Of those submitted, 23 artists and a total of 38 works have been selected to be on view, and the media ranges from the unusual — butterflies, repurposed converse sneakers and discarded stuffed animals — to the traditional — graphite, photography, paint and paper.”
Artists selected for recognition in this year’s exhibition are: Jeffrey Allison, Jennifer D. Anderson, Betsy Hale Bannan, Laken Grace Bridges, Christine Carr, Aleta Cortes, Brian Counihan, Ralph Eaton, Younseal Eum, Mira Gerard, Travis Graves, Alison Hall, Travis Head, Greg Howser, Scott Hubener, Jake Ingram, Clover Archer Lyle, Alison Pack, Simone Paterson, Isaac Powell, Dawn Roe, Jenny Snead and Liz Murphy Thomas.
Their work encompasses such undercurrents as entropy in nature, the interplay of emotion and desire, systems, narrative figuration, the idea of “other” and revisiting the “readymade.”
For example, entropy — in nature, the scientific theory that energy will disperse or spread unless it is hindered — is illustrated in Liz Murphy Thomas’ color photograph “Abandoned, Miami, FL,” in which kudzu plants swallow fellow woodland inhabitants.
Society’s obsession with materiality and emotion is captured through the lens of photography, soft sculptures and computer originated art works in Simone Paterson’s electronic multi-media installation “Felt.” And in “Jackalope Sole I (Jake),” Jake Ingram deconstructs a Converse tennis shoe and remolds it into a mythical creature that is an amalgamation of a rabbit, an antelope and a pheasant. The work’s title alludes to the “soul” taken from a shoe’s sole as well as referring to the artist’s name. Additionally, the title infers that the work can be interpreted as a non-representational self-portrait.
“In totality, this exhibition embraces artists who are focused on temporary global issues in a variety of manifestations from environmental conservation to reconstituted objects that address both intimate and more universal artistic truths in a variety of media,” Moorefield said. “All have their eyes on issues that are prevalent in our present time. It is my hope that these exhibited works will initiate dialogue in the William King Museum community.”
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday; and 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for seniors; and free for students, children and members.
For more information, call (276) 628-5005 or visit www.williamkingmuseum.org.