For the fourth year, the Museum of Arts and Sciences invited professional artists to exhibit their works in the main gallery through the end of May.
On April 7, a cocktail reception was held that included gallery talks with the artists and the opportunity to purchase one of the unique designs from one of the six featured painters and sculptors, all of whom live in Georgia.
According to Susan Welsh, executive director of the museum, the exhibit is by invitation only and this year includes artists who were educated in Southern universities and who have earned masters degrees in fine arts. As a nationally accredited museum, MAS schedules the ambitious display to influence collecting habits of art patrons and to educate the public in the academic standards required of the artists.
Each of Alfred Conteh's sculptures delivers a powerful message. His triptych, "Blood," tells the African-American's story of struggle, motivation and a positive future, or, as the artist states, "Who we were, who we are and what we can be." "Magbaraka," a three dimensional shape of the human heart, is molded from wood, acrylic and steel in a continuous pulsating rhythm.
Exploring the relationships between color, space and movement, Joe Camoosa's paintings on paper and canvas are executed with the precision of a cartographer, not surprising since he sees much of his work as images of maps from his many travels.
BREATHING LIFE INTO ORGANIC FORM
Like Camoosa, Laura Bell explores the dynamics of living and survival, but with a more ominous message, through the use of textiles and embroidery. Her concerns for climate change, eminent extinction of species and aging are reflected in soft sculpture, using foam, fabrics and stitching to emphasize the discomfort that comes with drastic change and a human's adaptation to those changes. Bell admits a preoccupation with the implied discomfort of cutting, stitching and manipulation of the materials, not necessarily obvious at first glance.
The organic shapes of Alex Kraft's clay sculpture, products of her vividly imagining the life that lurks in plants and inert objects, are finished in an array of glossy and unfired glazes. Wall tiles, in riotous colors and patterns, like crazy-quilt designs, were influenced by the DIY movement, according the artist, who sees crafts as an elementary art form.
Some of Matt Haffner's work is literally larger than life -- one piece, a supine human figure, with three dimensional birds pecking in the foreground, occupies almost one entire wall of the gallery. As stated in his biography, most of his larger works are done for temporary public exhibits and express his blue collar street aesthetic, with images of ordinary lives and activities. However, Haffner cannot be pigeon-holed in his artistic expression, for he is also well known for his videography, photography and paintings.
The kaleidoscopic imagery of some of Zuzka Vaclavik's paintings and the acute detail of others reflect the diverse disciplines of the most widely traveled of the six featured artists. Vaclavik, who holds dual citizenship in Slovakia and in the United States, escaped with her family to Germany in the early 1980s, from communist Czechoslovakia.
A Czech art instructor ignited her passion for painting, which brought her to the University of Texas, where she graduated, summa cum laude, with her bachelor of fine arts degree. Delaying graduate school, she traveled to Cambodia where she studied for two years before completing her master of fine arts degree at the University of Georgia. Vaclavik's resume indicates she still has wanderlust for expanding her artistic horizons.
LOCAL ARTISTS WELCOMED
In the hall gallery of the museum, 12 Macon artists displayed their paintings, a bonus for the "Emerging Artist" patrons who may not be familiar with their work. Cherry Brewer, a self-taught contemporary painter, whose canvases are part of the permanent collection at the Mercer University School of Medicine, and Travis Hart, whose impressionistic Statue of Liberty received many timely comments in this day of political turmoil, are in good company. Bren Powell's encaustic painting, a process involving hot wax mixed with pigment then applied to wood or canvas, appears labor intensive, but has a history dating to first-century Egypt.
It was good to see Thomas Sanders' watercolors included with Daly Smith's contemporary paintings and Noreen White's imaginative, blithe images. Be sure and visit the smaller gallery to also see the paintings by Jim Adams, Nancy Butler, Kristy Edwards, Lori Mitchell, Maureen Persons and Corie Swan.
Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224.