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Artworks Gallery celebrates 25 th anniversary with retrospective

by Keith Barber

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Mary Beth Blackwell Chapman’s sculpture “Springbok Woman,” is one of 20 works featured in Artworks Gallery’s 2010 retrospective, which will be one of the featured events during the First Friday Gallery Hop in Winston-Salem. Last year, Artworks celebrated its 25th anniversary as an artist co-op. (courtesy photo)

Images of millions of barrels of crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s Deepwater Horizon dominated the airwaves for the better part of 2010, making a lasting impact on local artist Alix Hitchcock. A Wake Forest art professor and a member of the Artworks artist co-op, Hitchcock is one of 20 local artists participating in Artworks Gallery’s 2010 retrospective, which will be featured at the First Friday Gallery Hop in Winston-Salem on Jan. 7.

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Hitchcock’s pieced “Trapped” depicts a human figure silhouetted against flames in the background.

“I was thinking about the BP oil spill and the oil rig going up in flames and people trapped in the flames,” Hitchcock said. “I just think about most environmental disasters and how most humans feel trapped between preserving the environment and working with all the other forces in the world.”

Hitchcock’s process began with letting black ink spill on the canvas and flow wherever it wanted to, like an oil spill.

“I think about elements that I might want to include and then I’ll start with a medium that will work with my idea,” she said. “I work layer by layer. I do two layers before I decide what the third and fourth layer will be. I know the elements I want to work with but I sometimes change course midstream depending on how it’s looking.”

Like all artists, Hitchcock has to rely on her intuition. In 1985, Hitchcock and her fellow Winston-Salem artists had a really good feeling about creating an art gallery run by artists.

“All the members have a voice in how the gallery is run and what is shown,” Hitchcock said. “They determine when their work is shown and how it’s shown.”

Sculptor Mary Beth Blackwell Chapman has two works in the Artworks 2010 retrospective, including a 28-inch tall ceramic piece entitled “Springbok Woman.” Chapman’s second piece is a book sculpture entitled “Elephants at Play in the Zambezi.” Both pieces were inspired by a trip to South Africa in 2008, Chapman said, and it took a while for the inspiration to percolate.

“It usually takes about two years to process the experience of other cultures,” Chapman said. “My main inspiration for my work is mythology and memory, both collective and personal and nature.”

The Artworks co-op has grown to 25 members, Chapman said, and the impact of a new artist joining the group always has a significant impact.

“Their work improves [exponentially] after they join,” Chapman said.

And with each new member, the artist co-op is strengthened and its creative legacy is assured.

“Artworks is a phenomenal organization that has allowed artists in this community to support each other, encourage each other, have uncensored shows, to work together and to have the responsibility and the joy of putting together shows,” Chapman said. “It’s a remarkable way for artists to work together — for artists to do anything together for 25 years is remarkable.”

wanna go?

First Friday Art Hops happen the first Friday of each month in Greensboro along Elm Street and in Winston- Salem emanating from the corner of 6 th and Trade streets.

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