Up & Coming Weekly

December 08, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 12 of 24

12 UCW DECEMBER 9-15, 2020 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM COVER STORY Artists Who Teach 2020, a remedy for online sensory overload by SONI MARTIN After months of staying home due to COVID-19, I felt comfortable visiting a gallery. My first stop was to see the exhibit Artists Who Teach 2020 at Ellington White Contemporary Gallery. I was not disappointed and upon leaving the exhibit I felt a sense of joy see- ing works created by art educators from around the country. Curator Dwight Smith extended the exhibit until Dec. 19 so more people could visit the gallery and see 36 original works in a variety of media from art- ists working in higher education and public schools. e gallery and online exhibit are the result of artists from 26 states participating in the national competi- tion by sending 156 images to be part of the selection process. Leaving the gallery, I realized my approach to writ- ing an art editorial for Up & Coming Weekly would not be the same as before 2020. Too much has hap- pened this year which has impacted our daily lives and community. A paradigm shift has taken place in Fayetteville, the American culture and around the globe. en there is the obvious, why would people venture out to see Artists Who Teach 2020 when viewing works of art has become more online acces- sible than ever before? We can stay at home and visit museums and gal- leries around the world from our living room. Tech- nology and live streaming have defined "our today" in many positive ways; but unfortunately, it has also become a consuming mass distraction — the 2020 Zeitgeist of seeing reproductions online lacks the experiential or contemplation. e concept of zeitgeist traditionally refers to the overall spirit of an age (politically, economically and culturally) and cannot be known until it is over. So why does it feel like the 2020 Zeitgeist is not only upon us, but "all over us?" I could go with the con- temporary version of zeitgeist, though not pragmatic, and refer to what is tasteful in today's culture … I do not think that is even possible. e information highway is not new, but 2020 on- line, virtual accessibility and mass communication has fast-forwarded us into sensory overload. is includes, but is not limited to, the lingering COVID pandemic and the resounding influences of the internet: live streaming, hashtags to esports, social distancing to online education, podcasts, Zoom, video-based communities, what is factual, what is real, the video is becoming the main medium for critical cultural moments, and lots and lots and lots of tweets. According to internetlivestats.com, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter every second with 145 million daily active users on Twitter, an average of which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year. If you do go to "internetlivestats" you will see a page of flickering, perpetually increasing numbers. Numbers across the screen flick as they are con- stantly totaling upwards to reveal what happens in a day, by seconds, to compute the increased usage of the following: internet users of the world, number of emails sent, number of websites, google searches, blogs and tweets, videos seen on YouTube, photos uploaded from Instagram, Tumblr posts, actives users on Google, Facebook, Pinterest and Skype, number of websites hacked, number of computers, smartphones and tablets sold, internet traffic, elec- tricity used today on the internet and CO2 emissions from the internet. It is easy to see, hands down, how this website image affirms and IS the definitive 2020 Zeitgeist! If you are still reading after the last two para- graphs, a slight sensation might be taking place — too much information! Sensory overload is a part of 2020. Sensory input is most often pleasing; but when we have sensory overload, when one or more of our bodily senses' experience over stimulation — it can be very unpleasant. e main purpose of the internet is to provide global access to data and communications. Sen- sory overload of information occurs when we do not practice the purpose of information: to resolve uncertainty. Full circle to the beginning of the article: technology and live streaming not only define "our today" in positive ways; but it also has the potential to become a consuming mass distraction - lacking the experiential or contemplation. Bottom line, the explosive growth of information has become sensory overload, unpleasant and even inhibits thinking. A starting point to reestablish the best of the remnants of 2019 and back to the notion of thinking, feeling and the real is possible at Ellington White Contemporary Gallery. Curator Smith noted: "Due to the success of last year's competition, this is the sec- ond year we conducted and presented the results of a national competition among art educators. e art educators are from higher education and the public schools' systems across the nation. e exhibit is a very diverse group of paintings, drawings, prints, mixed media works, and three-dimensional works and showcases the arts as an essential part of a com- plete education. It does not matter if happens in the home, school, or community. Students of all ages, from kindergarten to college, and creative program all benefit from artistic learning, innovative thinking, and the creative imagination." Smith, also an Associate Professor of Art at Fayetteville State University, and Vilas Tonape, artist, and chair of the Visual Arts Department at Method- ist University, both juried the competition from the 156 entries. Tonape selected the six award winners. Ellington White Contemporary Gallery is not only hosting the gallery exhibit but also created an online exhibit. Both exhibits will remain on the gallery on- line website for one year. Online exhibits have been extremely important in 2020 to galleries and museums, but it does not replace the real. Works of art in galleries and mu- seum are more relevant than ever before. Comparing two of the works in Artists Who Teach 2020 is my way of exemplifying the differences and why supporting local galleries is important now and, in the future, when the COVID restrictions are finally lifted. While writing this article, I contacted Beverly Hen- derson, the student intern at Ellington White Gallery, and asked her one simple question: how do you like the exhibit? Her last remarks were: "… a lot of di- versity in the works. It was different seeing the work online and when the original works arrived. After we hung the exhibit and I had time to look, I could see more details and felt an emotion from the real work which I did not feel when seeing the online version." Henderson is correct, as soon as you enter the gallery visitors will immediately see very diverse approaches to image or object making; but they will also, unknowingly, sense materiality. en it takes real time in a real space to examine and compare how each artist creates the content of their work with style, composition and use of materials. e materiality of the painting titled "ree Brush- es" by Larry Hamilton, from Wichita Falls, Texas, is a masterful oil painting. e beautifully painted small still life captures the essence of a moment in time. Viewers can get close to the oil painting on panel and see a manipulated surface, transitions of light, saturated color, half tones and atmosphere. e physical richness of surface is subtle as it catches the light created of paint and paint medium. In comparison, the style of Danielle Cartier, from Camden, New Jersey, is a mixed media work titled "Ever Knew" and is the opposite of Hamilton's paint- ing. Instead of a traditional still life, the artist has cre- ated a multilayered abstract and referential surface using acrylic paint, spray paint and mixed media. Her style is to juxtapose unlike images in the same work to evoke new meaning for the viewer. "ree Brushes" by Larry Hamilton from Wichita Falls, Texas "Ever Knew" by Danielle Cartier from Camden, New Jersey

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