BEADWORK IS in some ways one of the most underappreciated fine art forms. Usually associated with crafts and costumes rather than serious art, beads can deliver an amazing amount of texture — an effect made all the more dynamic by the subtle play of light off the varying surface of the beads, themselves constructed in all kinds of shapes and colors.
At its best, the effect of expertly done beadwork is simultaneously earthy and scintillating, as you can see in the two–woman show at Indigo Sky Community Art Gallery, “Fact and Fantasy: Beaded Narratives by Nancy Hooten and Kym Hepworth,” up now through April 1. An artist gallery talk is set for March 25.
Curated by Owens–Thomas House Curator Tania Sammons, the show divides Jerome Meadows’ Waters Avenue gallery literally in two, with Hooten’s work on the left side as you enter, and Hepworth’s on the right.
While both women share an ability to create compelling imagery and narratives through their work, their approaches are different.
Hooten, who’s been beading for over 20 years, creates vignettes dealing with personal issues and evocative landscapes – as she puts it, “memories of Southern life, persons and places I have known, and changing beliefs.”
At times, Hooten’s work is deeply personal. The most obvious example of her autobiographical work is “Till Death Do Us Part.” What at first looks like a wan self–portrait becomes much more immediate when you notice the black eye Hooten sports.
This snapshot of real–life domestic abuse – Hooten is quick to point out that she’s since remarried – took years for her to confront artistically.
“So many women never talk about domestic abuse they’ve suffered,” she says. “It took me many years to get to the point where I could say, ‘OK, it’s time to talk about it.’”
Some of Hooten’s work, however, comprises landscape scenes, the multiple layers of sky and sand being particularly well–suited to beadwork.
Hepworth’s work incorporates heavy collage elements and has a distinctly Victorian aura. Indeed, many of Hepworth’s works in the show are directly influenced by Victorian ‘Mourning Art” and its associated aspects of sentimentality, Romanticism and Gothic drama.
While her work compels, there is a certain distance very much in keeping with Victorian propriety. Much of her work, for example, is mounted behind glass.
“You want to touch the work, but there’s always that barrier,” she says.
The New Jersey native celebrates one of the Victorian era’s seminal figures, Edgar Allan Poe, in one work, though her reason for using Poe as a subject is more... well, subjective.
“I just really like Poe,” Hepworth says with a sly smile.
Fact and Fantasy: Beaded Narratives by Nancy Hooten and Kym Hepworth
Where: Indigo Sky Community Gallery, 915 Waters Ave.
When: Through April 1, gallery talk March 25, 3–5 p.m.