With St. Patrick's Day recovery efforts still underway and the Savannah Music Festival in full swing, you might have expected an uneventful weekend for visual arts. Proving those expectations wrong, Friday, March 22, featured a pair of events that illustrated Savannah's commitment to investing in the community's future.
Artists Harry DeLorme and Rachel Green offered a tour of their exhibition, "Post-Consumed: Plastic Constructions" at the Cultural Arts Gallery on Henry Street. The couple, married for over 25 years, collect discarded materials and repurpose them in a range of constructed forms.
DeLorme was trained as a painter, and uses the plastic fragments he gathers to produce functional objects, sculptures, and two dimensional works that combine the formal qualities of both paintings and mosaics. His clocks made of found plastics from the Savannah River and a lamp composed of 120 empty cigarette lighters from McQueen's Island invite consideration of what practical uses we can devise for the materials that damage our ecosystems and wildlife.
Elsewhere, arrangements of plastic pieces in every color forge interesting connections between life, art and the natural world. For example, his "River Specimens Female/Male" is a 12 1/2-inch by 25-inch panel on which DeLorme organized thrown-away toys. Rows of plastic barrettes with bows, butterflies and dragonflies comprise the top half of the arrangement; toy soldiers and cowboys the bottom half. The effect is like an old butterfly collection display, making for a fascinating comparison between the things we collect and display.
Green's work is equally rich with such comparisons. With roots in fibers and object construction, she utilizes traditional craft techniques to transform materials ranging from irons to X-Box controllers into busts, quilts and shapes reminiscent of children's playthings. A pair of tricycles made of technological detritus bring to mind nostalgia, motherhood and personal relations to objects. She thus explores gender, personal relationships and the artificial and natural.
Working with what they call the "horrible candy of our consumptive lifestyle," DeLorme and Green are chief examples of how the visual arts can bring attention to the destructive consequences of our ways of living.
"Post-Consumed" is at Cultural Arts Gallery, 9 W. Henry St., March 22-April 26
Young artists @Desotorow
A few blocks south in the Starland District, the nonprofit Desotorow Gallery hosted its Young Artists Showcase. The exhibit featured 46 works the staff selected from a pool of nearly 100 submissions. While the show featured student art from St. Vincent, Savannah Christian and Calvary high schools, Groves High School contributed the largest number of submissions and selected work.
Fine examples of painting, drawing, sculpture, graphic design and mixed media filled the space's walls. Impressive as the quality of technique was, many of the artworks were expressive, felt important and developed concepts far beyond the students' years.
Highlights included the drawings of Aaron Morse, a senior at Groves, whose intricate works clearly evince expert draftsmanship. Gallery Co-director Julia Thompson, a SCAD painting B.F.A. student, mused that his skills could intimidate any of SCAD's best students. Morse's "Clockwork Owl" had the honor of winning second prize that evening.
Best in show went to "...Exorcism Hemerocallis" by Melissa Walton, a senior from Jenkins High School. Her three mixed media works masterfully layered lace and found paper upon finely executed color pencil drawings. She demonstrated a remarkable penchant for texture and layer on the one hand. On the other, deft use of negative space also evidenced her ability to select, abstract and express through absence.
Getting to know the students who attended the opening was even more rewarding than seeing their impressive work. It became clear that the opportunities to pursue creativity in and out of the classroom have functioned to create friendships between students from diverse backgrounds and, indeed, from different schools. Exceeding the beautiful artwork that results, our young people form lasting relationships with like-minded peers through art education.
The evening was thus the result of many people, from many different sectors of the local community, working hard to realize a sustainable vision of the future – a future indeed in our hands, the two exhibits showing that a sustainable future starts with the local community.
Look for an exclusive Grove High School student exhibit at the Desotorow Gallery in June.