Despite featuring artists of every age from around the globe working in diverse sets of media, visitors walking into the Carroll County Arts Council's newest exhibit "Boldly Beautiful" are greeted by a singular vision of natural forms and matching colors.
The show, the center's first exhibition of the year, is open until March 4 and features work by Fernando Alvarez, originally from Bogota, Colombia; Boisali Biswas, from Calcutta, India; Tila Assgari, a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art; and Tara Will, a local artist from Hampstead.
Susan Williamson, gallery coordinator with the CCAC, said she was shocked by how coherent and uniform the show eventually came out as.
"I never go to an artist studio and pick their artwork. I figure they will bring their best, and they have absolutely blown me away," Williamson said. "If you look at the textures and colors, there's a theme. These artists don't know each other and have never met, but there's a theme that runs through the entire show like a big needle and sews the entire exhibit together."
Much of the work of "Boldly Beautiful" is focused on the natural form, with even abstract pieces named for its environmental inspiration.
Fernando Alvarez first learned art from his parents who worked as painters in Columbia. A faculty member at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Alvarez's work features natural landscapes and still lifes with explosive energy. According to Williamson, though his paintings begin with a brush, he soon moves to laying on additional layers by pouring on paint and pulling off excesses with paper towels. This method gives his landscapes a rushing look as the borders of the images melt into the canvas itself.
Mimicking Alvarez's focus on nature and landscapes is the woven and fiber work by Biswas. Today, Biswas lives in Michigan and creates textile work involving found materials from wallpaper, ceramics to fabrics in her life. Several of Biswas' hanging textiles feature natural images, including birds, flowers and mammals. Her works being shown include "Childhood Revisited," "Dreaming Flowers" and "Blustery Day."
Williamson said she was impressed with Biswas' ability to incorporate the world around her into her pieces, using things like Venetian blinds and transforming them into weaves.
"There's something in one piece that my heart just kind of jumps out for," Williamson said. "Her daughter came home and was invited to prom, so Boisali made her a dress out of this crushed blue velvet and embellished it with hand-dyed and hand-painted silks and used some for this piece."
The other artist providing three-dimensional work at the exhibit is Assgari.
Assgari, currently a MICA student, most recently exhibited in the CCAC's Member Show. Williamson said she was really impressed by the lightbox she had created and it opened her eyes to a need the exhibition hall had.
"I realized I needed to step out of my comfort zone," Williamson said. "It's light and it's bold and it's beautiful."
Assgari's pieces consist of laser-cut pieces of wood staggered to create a three-dimensional shape capped off by a colored and stained piece of Mylar. Inside the piece are lights that shine out between the gaps in the pieces of wood. Williamson said the juxtaposition between the natural form of the wood and the bright colors of the Mylar is reminiscent of the beautiful colors you can get in algae pools.
Finally, the exhibition features work by Will, who has created pastel pieces that should seem familiar to local art-lovers. Will, who lives in Hampstead and works at Westminster's Ain't That A Frame, has created landscapes of local spaces to hang in the show. Pieces include depictions of Frederick's downtown and the woods off of Hampstead-Mexico Road. Williamson said Will is a master at working with pastels to create the landscapes.
"She is just very spontaneous and bold," Williamson said. "She's not afraid of color. She's raw, but in a good sense. She puts in down and doesn't hesitate and doesn't go back. In pastels, you can't go back."
As the first show of the year, Williamson said, it's difficult to come up with a theme to transition out of the gallery of gifts and start the season off right. She said having bold colors and natural images can be important in the winter months, when it's cold and often dead outside.
"It's winter, and we needed something bold and something beautiful," Williamson said. "I think this work lives up to that."
If you go
What: "Boldly Beautiful" artists reception
When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19
Where: Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster
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For more information: Call 410-848-7272 or visit www.carrollartscenter.org.