Artists honored at weekend reception, exhibit runs to Nov. 8

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 13, 2009

State artists gathered Saturday evening to celebrate an exhibit at the Johnson Center for the Arts.

The exhibit, “Celebrating Contemporary Art in Alabama: The Nature of Being Southern,” which began in August and will last through Nov. 8., features 41 artists, who are all past recipients of Fellowship Grants from the Alabama State Arts Council.

The artists were honored with an artists’ reception, and Richard Metzger, Johnson Center for the Arts executive director said he was pleased with the turnout.

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“I’m very excited about the support the community has shown,” Metzger said.

Daphne artist Stephen Savage, one of the exhibitors, said he was surprised no other art gallery in the state had presented an exhibit like this.

“I was surprised that another institution hasn’t done this,” Savage said.

“It makes Troy look like a wonderful place. I’m proud to be in this exhibit because it is such high quality.”

Savage, whose medium is photography, concentrates his work on Baldwin County life.

“It is the artist’ purpose to bring images of life to the viewer,” Savage said.

“An artist is the chronicler of his culture. His or her imagination might offer the best or worst side of life. Beauty of it’s opposite.”

His exhibit displays “Tire Tracks in the Sand,” “Market Truck,” “Fort Morgan Beach House” and “Florabama.”

Savage said an interesting fact about his photographs in the exhibit is all were taken with a toy camera.

Savage said he was awarded the fellowship in 2001.

Birmingham photographer and fellow Carolyn Sherer said her exhibit is a Cinema Verde-type work, which include “Cousins,” “Cowboy Will” and “Dining with Cleo.”’

“I set it up and let the scene unfold,” Sherer said.

The photos on exhibit were taken with film, but digitalized and printed on Hahmemuehle paper, which Sherer said is similar to watercolor paper.

“I’ve been taking photographs professionally since 1995,” Sherer said.

“I have published a book of black and white photos.”

Another photography series, which focuses on Southern baptisms in three Black Belt counties of Alabama, is on exhibit.

Birmingham photographer Caroline Davis, said a black mother, who couldn’t swim, raised her, which is the inspiration of her 14-year underwater baptism series.

Davis captures the essence of outdoor water baptisms in Greene, Sumter and Hales counties, where there are more outdoor baptisms than in any other part of Alabama or the Deep South.

“I photograph under and above the water. In the rivers, creeks, lakes and baptism pools of three Black Belt counties and four rivers running through them have drawn me back year after year to this mystical cultural area,” Davis said.

Davis’ work shows full immersion baptisms.

“I shoot from above and below the surface of the water, inviting the viewer beneath the water’s surface for a unique encounter with the baptism candidate at the moment of submersion,” Davis said.