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GreenHill opens the New Year with a new exhibit

by Robert W. Pacheco

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The GreenHill gallery is addressing the soul of North Carolina with a new exhibit.

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Imprint is the first installment of rotating exhibitions GreenHill will bring to downtown Greensboro this year. The works were curated by Edie Carpenter and feature four North Carolina artists who use varying techniques of printmaking to display themes of social change and the vulnerability of the natural environment.

Upon entering the Ralph Clay Price Gallery at GreenHill, one is greeted by the contributions of artist Mark Iwinski, who uses a splice of a 325-year Douglas fir to print onto paper varying shades of colors.

The display utilizes this ancient tree, tarnished by a logger’s blade, as a stamp upon paper to represent the damage that man creates on the environment in order to sustain society’s needs. The rings that indicate the age of the conifer spiral about on the paper in a deliberate manner.

Looking at the display, one cannot help but think that the artist is making a statement about the millions of Christmas trees that were related to this Douglas fir. So many of those trees are harvested at infancy rather than allowed to grow into maturity.

Iwinski forces the audience to rethink the concept of spring and rebirth as it corresponds to the harm and harshness of the cold holiday season.

Moving deeper into the gallery one comes to the illuminated display of artist Mathew Curran. Using an avian theme, Curran infuses ravens and hummingbirds with vivid and organic expressions. The birds share space with soft cherry blossoms and thorny roses, juxtaposing nature as equally cruel and beautiful.

April V. Flanders contributes the most brilliant display, incorporating bright shades of paper, with delicate precision to display the multiplicity of the animals in the natural world.

The vibrancy of life is illustrated through the color choice of hundreds of animals — both predator and prey — splayed across a barren wall. The landscape illustrates the close quarters that life requires to sustain an ecosystem.

Flanders’ nuanced and intellectual submission reflects the primal instincts inherent in nature.

Shapes and squiggles are apparent on the pieces, representing an organic artist attempting to commune and communicate with the natural world. The cuttings are precise in their complexity; they reflect the organic nature of art by incorporating the natural shapes of leaves and animals to counterbalance the mark of the artist.

The most contemplative offering is a multilayered print that, like much of exhibit, utilizes the predator vs. prey theme. Flanders centers the piece on a content bird perched upon a branch in a serene environment. However, the cutting of the print matting that surrounds the cherubic scene contains a multitude of snakes engaged in a hunt.

Sharp contours of the snakes illustrate the fierce nature of this predatory killer, but the expression of the asps belies their nature. The snakes hold countenances of confusion and contemplation across their faces, while the birds sit eagerly awaiting fate’s hand without knowing the imminent consequence of their submission to their surroundings.

Each artist contributes their unique interpretation on the connection between the violence of life and its constant struggle against the tranquility of nature. The organic nature of art is displayed in varying forms through a medium that relates to the organic purity of nature.

Life and death are displayed as subtextual comments on humanity’s place in nature, leaving the audience to contemplate their imprint on the natural world. The end result of this collection is a thoughtful representation of North Carolina culture by artists who are deeply connected to the state.

GreenHill’s initial offering of 2014 sets the stage for another season of art that is representative of our state’s unique heritage. It delves into the soul of North Carolina and reflects a people who have always been conscious of their unique place in this land, and their respect of the life that it nourishes.

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WANNA

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Imprint runs at GreenHill, located in the Greensboro Cultural Center at 200 N. Davie St., runs through March 27. For more information, visit greenhillnc.org or call 336.333.7460.

American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keefe to Rockwell, a traveling exhibit organized by the Brooklyn Museum, opens at Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem on Friday.

Uptown Artworks in Greensboro launches Amplify the Abstract, an exhibit of work by Aliana Grace Bailey, Jay M. Bruni, Patti Frinzi, Roshawn Hill, Elijah Miller, Jessa Smith and Philip Young on Feb. 9 from 2 to 5 p.m. !

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