Collaboration brings Tales of Southern Gothic to Greensboro
By: David Willard
Friendships are formed throughout life if we are lucky. Three women were lucky enough to form a friendship and sisterhood through their collaboration and art.
In 2016, Ruby Slipper Fringe Festival was held in Winston-Salem. The festival was a showcase of creative women in the area to demonstrate their talents and skills in a woman-supported environment. The festival was a success, but for many more reasons than just attendance. The festival brought women from numerous creative disciplines and created bonds in the process. One such bond was formed between three local artists, and little did they know at that moment, the “Ruby Sisters” would be formed.
Tammy Baldwin-Willard, Ginger Bryant and Carrie Lilly all took the leap of faith to show their work and be a part of the Ruby Slipper Fringe Festival, and it was there in those moments of courage in showing their souls through their art that their friendship was born. Now two years later, they already have two collective shows under their belt, and on Sept. 29, they will present their third show in Greensboro at The Loaded Grape. The title of the show is “Tales of Southern Gothic,” and if the Ruby Sisters have their way, it’s a show that will be talked about.
“We were just talking and bouncing around ideas,” Lilly said. “We wanted to do something a little dark, since all three of us have an affinity for the darker side of things, and it shows in our work. I’ve always been fascinated with everything Southern Gothic. It’s wickedly dark, but can also be beautiful, and is quintessentially Southern. We all kind of leaned toward that theme, then Tammy took it a step further and compared it to the current state of our society. We realized we could do so much with this theme, and we ran with it.”
The show will feature three artists with three distinct styles. Lilly’s photographic artistry will be on display, and the theme really seems to be a perfect fit for her style.
“I would describe my photography as dramatic, evocative, and story-telling, or at least, that’s how I like to think of it,” she said. “It’s a little on the dark side, meaning that I post process with deep, undersaturated tones, rich blacks and shadows. I came to this style from years of experimentation with different techniques, both in-camera and in editing the images afterward. I’ve found a style that best expresses my vision.”
Baldwin-Willard’s work will also be on display. The artist has experimented with her work and has recently included alcohol inks in her repertoire.
“My art style, it’s tough for me to try to reconcile what I do as a defined style,” Baldwin-Willard said. “As I explore and experiment more, I find myself creating chaos of color and then searching for the calm in it. Once I have that calm or pattern, I try to offer the viewer something concrete that they can relate to and understand. Sometimes I go about it with a defined end-result, and sometimes I just let it all evolve organically. It really is based on my emotional state in that moment of creating.”
Baldwin-Willard said the Ruby Sisters are naturally drawn to the Southern Gothic genre. She said her art would grapple with the modern South and the current political climate.
“For myself, there are so many powerful emotions in the public face right now that are unresolved,” she said. “From my space of privilege, I took it for granted most of my life that we were moving toward more inclusion, opportunity, and unity for all. Instead, it feels like stereotypes of the South are being reinforced-while things are better than the Antebellum South-we are still struggling with prejudices, classes and political corruption that benefits the affluent. I feel like I hit a time warp. Things can’t keep being glossed over. So, I make my doodles and wrestle with this stuff myself.”
Bryant is an artist from Boone whose inspiration comes from the world around her. “I’ve always created art; it’s in my soul,” she said. “I love painting landscapes, trees, flowers, and creatures of fur and feather. I enjoy trying new techniques and playing with new mediums. Tales of Southern Gothic is not their first collaboration, and it will most assuredly not be the last. These three artists found each other’s talents at The Ruby Slipper Fringe Festival, but in the end, they found a lot more. In a time when women need to support and lift each other, these three artists are taking it to the next level and pushing each other to do more and dare to display it for all to see. After all, isn’t that what sisters do?
David Willard is married to Tammy Baldwin-Willard. He is a freelance writer in Winston-Salem and has written for Forsyth Woman Magazine, Forsyth Family Magazine, Winston-Salem Monthly.