'Three Women Artists' use different mediums to create their messages
By Jennifer Pacheco
The Pickens Sentinel
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 8:27 AM CDT
PICKENS COUNTY - Shadow and light, earth and water, rhythm and blues - the work of three female artists incorporate those ideas and many more.
"Three Women Artists," a new exhibit at the Pickens County Museum of Art and History showcases the work of three SC artists: Victoria Blaker of Taylors, Glenda Guion of Easley, and Susan Lenz of Columbia.
"They each have their own unique talent," said Helen Hockwalt, museum curator.
The exhibit runs through August 21.
The work of each artist utilizes a different medium: Guion uses clay, Blaker oil and ink and Lenz uses mixed media and textiles.
For Blaker, the movement and light inherent in her colorful oil paintings have a purpose: "I want people to be taken away from the worries and cares of their lives, if only for a few minutes," she said.
Guion has 20 years of sculpture on the first floor of the museum. Her work shows the interplay of her philosophy and subject matter. The recurring metaphor of the shadow figure, a human form without gender, is balanced by stone-like forms infused with the different colors of nature.
One work, "The Seven Generations," shows individual figures lying sideways in curves similar to waves. Guion has imbued each with a different texture mimicking an element of earth.
"Native Americans believed that you should treat the earth thinking about the seven generations ahead of you," she said. "The figures were created to represent the idea that we are stewards of the earth." Earth - in the form of Reedy River clay - has been incorporated into another one of the pieces.
Painting and drawing best capture Blaker's message of life's energy and beauty.
In her "Natural Impressions," exhibit, Blaker has mixed her oils to create thick color that both imitates nature in its subtleties, and exudes vibrancy.
Allen Coleman, director at the museum, was keen on having Blaker present her work.
"I was particularly moved by Victoria's portfolio," he said. "Her oils are so luscious."
Blaker paints to highlight movement in nature. Upstairs at the museum, cocks fight contentiously, trees bow and sweep over water, and cows repose amid a flurry of grasses.
Ink drawings of trees and other natural subject matter add another dimension to her display.
Also upstairs, "Tapestry in Blue," an installation by Susan Lenz, invites viewers to engage in a dramatic representation of twenty-four early female blues singers. In the installation, these women are depicted as saintly martyrs. Adding to the sacred effect, the "Blues Chapel" exhibit has blues music playing in front of an altar, a pew complete with church bulletins and fans, and a bowl in which to place prayer requests or messages of respect. In addition, Lenz's intricate embroidered and beaded tapestries represent the stained glass of a church. The blues singers are honored in the decorations, fans, and bulletins, as well as in the wall art.
"It is absolutely spectacular," said Seth Hemlich of Clemson on Lenz's work. "It really takes your breath away."
Lenz's subject matter has an important place in her heart.
"Early female blues singers lived in a male dominated society, in a segregated country, and worked in an industry that took advantage of their lack of education and opportunity," she said. "They struggled, made sacrifices, and sang of their woes. They were exploited, mistreated, or simply neglected, but their music is still played. The Blues helped change the world for today's young, black, female vocalists."
The Pickens County Museum of Art and History is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; it is open from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is free but donations are welcome. For more information, contact the museum at 864-898-5963.