The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Sep 03, 2012

New exhibit seeks to find the message of peace within the chaos

Posted by jdye

This painting by Carol Dodd Porter contains a quote from Albert Einstein.

The September exhibit at The Gallery at Macon Arts Alliance (a Knight Arts grantee) is special for me, because I am guest curating the exhibit. Heatherly Wakefield is MAA's director of fine art and the regular curator of its monthly exhibits. Knowing my background as a curator, she has gracefully allowed me the opportunity to plan an exhibit in the space where she regularly pours her heart. The following is my curatorial statement about this upcoming show:

"Slow Down, Step Back: Paintings and Porcelain" is an exhibit five years in the making. In 2007, I was working with the Three Cities Group Artist Collective, putting together exhibits in any space that would have us. It was during this time that I discovered the paintings of Carol Dodd Porter. For someone living in the small town of Dublin, Ga., her work was completely out of the ordinary. Her highly textured, mostly abstract canvases of words and images demanded attention. I was immediately able to convince her to exhibit with our group, but I was never able to convince her to sell her work. I have found this a common trait of artists whose work is very personal in nature. Only a few months ago, she decided to begin selling her work.

When I was charged with curating an exhibit of two artists, one painter and one sculptor, I knew I wanted Carol to be the painter. I wasn't sure of the sculptor. When Heatherly introduced me to Ann Baker's porcelain works, I immediately saw a connection. Two women who had never met, working in different mediums, but making work strikingly familiar in tone and quality.

The approaches were slightly different. Each of Carol's paintings contain a strong, single line running through the entire work. This line symbolizes the life of the individual. Along that line are graphic elements. An eye symbolizes a moment when one sees and accepts a truth. A window symbolizes when one sees a truth but rejects it. Triangles are jagged rocks representing struggle. Kites represent those moments when one is uplifted by others. Hidden within the line is a quote, a message of peace. When the viewer "steps back" and looks at the story of their life, the message reveals itself.

Ann Baker creates work which blends the feminine form with nature and human culture. She strives to combine the beauty of the Earth and human history with the strength of womanhood. She removes the arms and legs of her figures, not to weaken them, but to compel the viewer to "stop running and grabbing at life." She asks the world to "slow down and capture a peaceful moment and reflect upon the beauty around us." By "stepping back" or "slowing down" to eliminate the chaos of daily life, these two artists insist there is a message of peace to be found.

As the curator of this exhibit, I am fascinated by the differences in their approaches and the similarities in their goals. The work of each artist is technically strong. The forms of Ann Baker are elegant and beautiful. Carol's paintings are vivid, textural, and engaging. By exhibiting them together, I hope to amplify their message of peace, by compelling each of us to "slow down, step back" and allow the message to reveal itself.

This sculpture by Ann Baker has no arms and legs to remind the viewer to "stop running and grabbing at life."

The opening reception for "Slow Down, Step Back" will be held at The Gallery at Macon Arts Alliance September 7 from 5–8 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through the last Saturday of September.

The Gallery at Macon Arts Alliance: 486 First St., Macon; 478-743-6940;

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