May 112023

This mural was created by Lara Nguyen in 2016 for The Refinery in Asheville, North Carolina. The local artist and teacher’s design was chosen for the building by the Asheville Area Arts Council.

From a Mountain Xpress article about the work-

Bowerbirds and butterflies decorate the building’s facade. Nguyen considers the former “the artists of the bird world.” Each year, for up to six months, the male bowerbird will spend its days building arches made of straw. He will then gather brightly colored objects and place them outside the construction in order to attract mates.

“They perform,” says Nguyen. “They use the hole [of the arch] as a stage. … They’re also great mimickers and singers. I thought that was interesting. They’re like actors, performance artists, builders, makers, collectors, [and] in some way they’re painters. They pick certain colors and situate them.”

Nguyen saw the creature as a perfect symbol for The Refinery Creator Space. She lists off the various types of artists (painters, photographers, sculptors, filmmakers, fiber artists…), in addition to the art-based organizations (Asheville Darkroom, Asheville Makers, The Bright Angle, Local Cloth and Mechanical Eye Microcinema) that now call the space their home. She views her mural, with its bright colors and visual appeal, as a way to help facilitate traffic; a way to intrigue the public to step inside and support the arts.

More recently, Nguyen contributed work to the 2023 annual ArtFields event in Lake City, South Carolina. The two pieces are from her series “Letters to My Children”.

Her statement about these works-

“Strong Arms” & “Keep Going” are from a series entitled “Letters to My Children.” I was diagnosed with uterine leiomyosarcoma in July 2018 when my kids, Atticus and Moon, were 7 & 9 years old. In January 2020, my lung collapsed and I underwent a lobectomy. Now with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis I have found myself up at all hours worrying about dying before my kids are grown. When I couldn’t sleep, I wrote letters to them, recording their favorite recipes and my fondest memories of them for them. In 2021, I decided to share my writing with them instead of saving all this pondering in a box for later. Making and sharing this work has allowed us to cry and grieve together, which, in turn, has opened up space to truly be honest and present for one another while we are all still alive. With my children’s permission, I present slices of difficult conversations we have had to a wider audience in hopes of easing any load the viewer might be carrying on their own personal journey.

Jun 252021

Currently at the Spartanburg Museum of Art in South Carolina is fiber filled, an exhibition consisting of two art installations. The one pictured above is by artist Samuelle Green, titled Manifestation 8: Permutation 1.

Her statement about the work-

There is structure and design inherent in the natural world, which we constantly draw from and take for granted. We generally fail to acknowledge the skill, time, and detail required to manifest the intricate structures found in objects we encounter regularly- such as those found in bird and wasps nests, beehives, spiderwebs, rock formations, anthills, feathers, etc.

My work, especially the large scale installations like this one, reference these natural forms as they merge with human-made objects, inspiring contemplation.

Also check out the museum’s site for a short video from the artist going into more detail on her process.

The other installation is by Liz Miller, titled Alchemical Conundrum, part of which is seen below.

Her statement about the work-

My work explores the fallibility of infrastructure and the precariousness of perceptions, as seen through a materially-intensive process-based lens. I create elaborate site specific installations that are equal parts absurd, menacing, and poetic. Pattern and tactility confuse and complicate identification, camouflaging recognizable forms and evoking recognition when applied to non-objective forms. The tensions between fact/fiction and dimensionality/flatness are endlessly fascinating to me, playing out my work as a dialogue between reality and illusion.

More recently I have become fascinated with rope and knotting as a byproduct of my large-scale installations, where I utilize rope to achieve tension that gives volume to otherwise flat materials. The varied use of rope and knotting across cultures and history ranges from utilitarian to decorative, and even deadly. I create interdependent knotted topographies that allude to both structure and malleability. The repeated act of tying by hand integrates an emphatic sense of strength, while the flexibility and nuance of the textile material ensures structural permutations. The resulting works are only quasi-architectural providing metaphorical insight laced with humor as related to a variety of structural and systemic behavior.

This exhibition closes 6/30/21.