Collaborations And Conversations

Collaborations And Conversations

Artists build connections through communication


Fenix Gallery in Fayetteville hosts an opening reception on March 7 for its newest exhibition, “Collaborations and Conversations,” which marks the one-year anniversary of the gallery’s new home on the historic downtown square. Curated by artist Steven Schneider, the goal of the exhibition is to reinforce the bond between artists and community members “by creating opportunities for interaction and discussion that will hopefully lead to more effective and compassionate communication,” he explains.

“The cliché, ‘from the heart, to the heart,’ rings true for me, and I am drawn to work that was created with intention and soul,” Schneider says of his approach to curating the exhibition.

A group of 28 artists will be included in the exhibition, which blends not only three-dimensional and two-dimensional works but also involves performance art during the opening reception. Butoh dancer and artist Lela Besom will a present a piece from her Explorative Dance Workshop, and local singer/songwriter Bayard Blain will perform on instruments he designed and built.

“This piece is built out of conversations with Steve at Fenix, the dancers, the season, a desire to nourish community and a personal artistic query that was sparked on a recent performance trip to Indonesia,” Besom explains of her work “Winter Seeds Awakening.”

“To see many samples of artists collaborating in many different ways may show people that art is flexible and can be whatever they want it to be,” artist Cindy Arsaga adds. “As our possibilities expand, so does our creativity, and I hope my work and the entire show will spark a desire for others to bring their potential art to life.”

Here, these three artists answer a few questions about their work ahead of the exhibition’s opening.

Q. How do you hope having your work presented in the context of the exhibition will impact the viewer’s connection with the exhibition’s theme or with your own work?

Schneider: My hope is that the “Collaborations and Conversations” exhibit will present artistic expression in a way that is a more interactive and user-friendly experience and eliminates the awkward barriers that sometimes exist in a typical gallery setting.

Besom: I hope … people will feel comfortable approaching the dance and have awareness and trust that they are included in the manifestation of this piece. Hopefully this comfort will open internal doors and allow the audience to look more deeply at the piece and within themselves. Also, I would love to share this dance practice with more people so, hopefully, if people like the performance they will also want to try the dance themselves.

Q. What drew you to the medium and/or materials you work in?

Arsaga: I’m drawn to high contrast and obscuration. I’ve worked in pastels, oils, watercolor, but when I started working with encaustic I knew I’d found a medium I could learn from for a long time. Encaustic is molten beeswax with damar resin. It’s an ancient medium, used by the early Greeks and Egyptians on murals and sarcophagi. It’s also a preservative, keeping pigments intact and true for centuries. The layering of molten wax over a surface or image makes it immediately more dreamlike. I’m drawn to that dreamy quality and to then bringing forth the elements buried underneath that I want to reveal. It’s like placing veils and then lifting them.

Besom: I have always danced and have trained as a painter. On a friend’s suggestion I took a butoh workshop before ever seeing it performed. I was uncertain of the performance element of the dance at first, but I loved working with imagery through my body. Now I find butoh to be an artistic medium that allows me to deeply engage with my artistic queries, and I appreciate performing as a way to connect with people and nourish community.

Q. How do you feel your pieces reflect or relate to the exhibition’s theme of “Collaborations and Conversations?”

Arsaga: For me, collaboration is a broad idea. Anything someone else does that inspires us to see something or think something in relation to it and then bring that forth is, to me, a collaboration. We collaborate with people all the time when they inspire us creatively. There’s nothing new under the sun, as someone once said, but working with another’s ideas and products and giving them your own interpretation seems like a beautiful way to make the original reveal new potential.



‘Collaborations and Conversations’

WHEN — On display March 7-April 27; opening reception 5-8 p.m. March 7 during First Thursday

WHERE — Fenix Gallery in Fayetteville

COST — Free


Categories: Galleries