Greensboro Faeries of Summer opens
In her studio at Lyndon Street Artworks, Lida Witherspoon busily works to finish her nine tapestry paintings she calls ‘“Greensboro Faeries of Summer.’” She’s trying to finish them for display in tomorrow (Aug. 19) night’s opening reception in the Artworks’ gallery.
‘“I have all day and all night to finish,’” she says as if under no pressure. But what has been a three-month process is now down to a little more than 24 hours.
She’s always had an interest in faeries, she says, although she does lots of other kinds of art as well. The idea for this exhibit came from a multiple exposure photograph her husband took of her. After photographing her in a wooded area, he photographed a second exposure of a periwinkle vine, one of the violet flowers surrounding her face like a wreath.
Looking at the photo Witherspoon saw herself as a faerie and set out photographing friends of hers and combining them with multiple photos in Photoshop to create templates for the creatures she envisioned. From those photographs she drew larger sized sketches on pieces of brown packaging paper, and began painting the finished versions on canvas with acrylic paints.
The finished pieces are made as window shades, transparent enough to allow light to shine through, causing them to glow. Her mother helped her sew colorful borders and loops for curtain rods with 36 yards of material she acquired from a local quilting shop.
The faeries, that range in theme from morning to night, have names such as ‘“China Cat Sunflower Sunset Faerie’” and ‘“Earthshine Lotus Moon Faerie’” and ‘“Afternoon Vine Faerie.’” ‘“Afternoon Vine Faerie’” is a self-portrait in a way. It comes from that first photograph that inspired her to begin this task, but she has gone on to add shapes, rainbows and butterfly wings to the painting. The American Painted Lady is her favorite butterfly, and from a scientific identification book on butterflies she has painted the wings of this species onto her own body.
‘“China Cat Sunflower Sunset Faerie’” lies on her art table with dishtowels covering the delicately sewn borders. The body and the wings remain largely unfinished and Witherspoon works to create the wings of a Buckeye butterfly onto the faerie.
She wanted to do something crafty, she says, after Governor Michaek Easley declared 2004-2005 as the designated year for crafts. She goes on to say that North Carolina is the third largest state in terms of revenue from crafts, behind New York and California.
Witherspoon says she’s been an artist most all of her life. In 1983 she graduated from UNCG with a degree in theater production and set design, and soon afterwards opened a studio at the Greensboro Gateway Center at Elm and Lee streets called Vision Dance designing scenic, or stage, art for theatre companies. She moved her studio to Lyndon Street in the early spring, where she finds the collective artists to be inspiring.
Jars of colorful paints are piled on a nearby table and handfuls of brushes protrude from jars and cups scattered about Witherspoon’s space. ‘“I put my paint in jars,’” she says.
She makes her way back to her work. The day is still young and there is a lot to be done.
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