Cape Fear Studios recently sent an invitation to the art faculty at area community colleges and universities to show their works. The invitations were well received. Area colleges came out in full force to exhibit paintings, sculptures, prints and mixed-media works to showcase their styles.
   The exhibit, North Carolina College Faculty, includes works from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Methodist University and Meredith College. The exhibit represents a cross-section of artists from all over the country who work in the region, instruct young artists and remain artists themselves outside the classroom.
Whoever visits Cape Fear Studios will immediately see there are as many ways to explore a subject in contemporary art as there are subjects. From the contemporary computer-generated art scrolls of John and Margie Labadie from UNCP, to the shadow box, mixed-media work of Peggy Hinson at Methodist, visitors to the gallery will see that variety is the essence of today’s contemporary art.
   The exhibit is a full range of concepts, structure and methods — all possibilities that connect area faculty with contemporary visual form. Each work is an investigation about something, a mark making choice, a personal expression. All the works exude an essence —  clarity of connection with material and a personal commitment to a style. 
   {mosimage}As best exemplified by the exhibit, the hallmark of academic programs is an intersection of tradition and innovation. Where some instructors play with paradoxical space, others remain true to linear perspective. On the gallery walls, the narrative hangs next to the abstract and design.
   For Shane Booth, a professor at Fayetteville State University, the narrative element in his newest body of work focus’s on HIV awareness. His subjects are veiled in dim light, the somber tone self-evident. In comparison to the bright colors in Brandon Sanderson’s lithograph titled Observation, one first sees the whimsical; but upon closer inspection the narrative in Sanderson’s print is also serious in meaning, something catastrophic looms. Sanderson joined the faculty at UNCP to teach printmaking.
   James Biederman and Janette Hopper, both from UNCP, paint in similar tones, earth colors and halftones. Biederman paints in a nonobjective abstract manner, no less a master of color, you find yourself in a somewhat brooding abstract space for this exhibit. Hopper retains the landscape as a point of reference in her paintings.
   Where Biederman and Hopper investigate the mid-tones of a palette, Sean McDaniels from Fayetteville Technical Community College rounds out the exhibit of paintings with his high key palette and mark making — bold mark making across the canvas sculpt the representational form in space. His colleague, Lyn Padrick, in FTCC style, also uses a bright watercolor palette to describe her subjects of everyday genre. 
Silvana Foti from Methodist University is exhibiting her mixed-media images. Primary colors and pattern move across an accordion, paper space held in place by her use of brass flat rods, an open grid across the surface of the work.
   In strong contrast to Foti, Socorro Hernandez Hinek and Carla Rokes rely upon the minimal and shape to evoke meaning. Hinek, from FSU, is exhibiting a fresh set of mono prints. Hinek’s notable ceramic sculptures were left back in her studio. For this exhibit she shows us how her minimalist, monochromatic mono prints prints are very different from her highly textured and colorful sculptures.
   Carla Rokes from UNCP, like Hinek, also utilizes negative and positive shapes in her work. Unlike Hinek’s prints, Rokes exploits color to create meaning. Her work is playful, design is her underlying structure.
   I was happy to see three artists exhibiting works in the round: Stephen Robinson and Adam Walls are from UNCP; Warner Hyde is from Meredith College. Walls is exhibiting a steel, free-standing sculpture. Elongated and broad linear elements hold a large sphere in place. An upward movement toward the larger sphere is balanced when the eye is drawn to the much smaller sphere located in his design. Negative space for Walls is equal to his positive elements, both a play of negative-positive balance.
   Robinson and Hyde deal in ceramics. Both of their works is organic in form with earth colors as part of their overall commitment to clay. Whereas the clay body in Hyde’s forms is integral to his work, the slick glazed surface of Robinson’s work is still connected to an earthen palette. Both artists seem to be preoccupied with mass and openings in their work; yet they approach the form quite differently.
   Too many artists to cover everyone, but I had to reserve space for a new printmaker in Fayetteville. Julie Niskanen is the new printmaking instructor at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Commuting from Raleigh to teach at FTCC, Niskanen combines the modern printmaking technique of spit-biting to the mezzotint tradition. Both techniques are fundamentally tonal.
   Illusionary Reflections, the intaglio by Niskanen, represents the majestic possibilities of the print as an art medium. Traditional line gives way to soft veils of subdued greens, grays and black spreading across the picture plane. The soft fleshiness of the work is only surpassed by her deft drawing hand. Quite frankly, I find her prints irresistible — they are poetic and sensitive.
   The exhibit at the Cape Fear Studios is free to the public and will remain in place until Feb. 25. While you are in the front gallery, don’t forget to go to the exhibit at the back of the gallery space and see the work of Rick Kenner. Kenner is the recipient of this year’s Lois Ferrari Student Scholarship Competition.
   Kenner competed against area college and university students for the scholarship and a chance to exhibit his work along with the faculty. His work is strong, but most importantly, his work is memorable. We, at Fayetteville State University, were so pleased that one of our students is the recipient of this year’s prestigious and competitive award.
   To see the North Carolina College Faculty exhibit and a body of work by Kenner, you will need to visit the Cape Fear Studios in historic downtown. The studio is located on Maxwell Street between Franklin and Russell Streets. Studio hours are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and closed on Sunday. For more information, call (910)433-2986 or e-mail the studio at capefearstudios@yahoo.com.

Contact Tim Wilkins at tim@upandcomingweekly.com
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