Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Art of Nature

Rebekah Phillips and her three-panel untitled painting.

The warm, afternoon breeze blows into Frostburg State University's Roper Gallery in the Fine Arts building on April 27th. Five young women, all graduating art students, present their work in a art show called Naturally. The title is fitting, as all five students explore themes and subjects of the natural world in their art. All BFA art students at FSU are required to not only display their work in a gallery setting, but also plan and setup the exhibit. For some of these artists, this is the first time their work is publicly displayed.

Raeshawnda Williams works in ink, paint, and digital media. Her inspiration to pursue art as a career came from early childhood experiences. "I would watch cartoons and think, that's what I want to do when I grow up," she says. Her compositions, of animals both real and imaginary, are highly stylized and playful. One set of a drawings features an elongated dog-like animal wearing a gas mask.

"Pastels are like a cross between oil paints and crayons. They're the best of both worlds," says Elizabeth Kirby, who works exclusively in the medium. Her main compositions are bright and energetic depictions of owls, hawks, and roosters. "I wanted to capture the strength of these birds," she says, “their power and fierceness.”

Danielle Arnold creates jewelry made of metal and glass. Several of her necklaces feature pendants that are also functional printing plates. "My wearable art creates two-dimensional art. Just ink it and press it. You can make as many prints as you what." she explains. Animals, ocean waves, and fire are common themes in her work. "I am inspired by the tribal, the primitive," she says while holding a small, fiery red, glass snake of her own creation.

"I really like this experience of displaying my work," says Cristal Beatty, a graphic artist and illustrator. "I was just at a professional gallery last week. We made this place look professional, just like that gallery. We achieved what we set out to do," she says. Cristal presents several typographical illustrations. Her compositions are made entirely from altered letterforms. One piece, an homage to her father's favorite television show, Duck Dynasty, is composed entirely of hundreds of D's.

Rebekah Phillips is a painter and printmaker. Trees, animals, landscapes and seascapes comprise most of her subject matter. Some of her pieces are quite large, measuring several feet. “I think certain things, like landscapes and trees, should be captured on the largest scale the artist can handle,” she says. Rebekah says she learned some unsuspected things by participating in the show, “You can't prepare too much. The one thing I completely overlooked was how I was dressed. I came in an hour before the opening and someone said, 'Oh my god, I can totally see your underwear through that skirt!'” Luckily, a fellow art student had a piece of white cloth that she used as an impromptu slip. “I was so relieved. The things you learn in college.”

Naturally runs through May 1st at the Roper Gallery. The Gallery is open to the public, Sundays through Wednesdays, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.. For more information, call 301-687-4797, or visit the Art department's website,

No comments: