"Cloud Dragon,"by Denecia Ellis-Clarit, is a digital print created from photos of sunsets and the recent "supermoon." (Staff photo: Laura Williams)
ALBANY — A healthy crowd of all ages turned out Thursday night at the Albany Area Arts Council for the 10th Annual South Georgia College Art Invitational.
Teachers, families and students sampled hor d’oeuvres and listened to live music as they viewed a variety of traditional and eclectic pieces created by students from Albany State University, Darton State College, and Valdosta State University.
Artistic creations in sculpture, photography, painting and ceramics were all on display as budding artists proudly showed off the results of hard work and inspiration.
As the students pointed out their creations, they also told stories of how these pieces came to be. Often, the methods of creating a piece are as interesting as the final results.
Take Sholonda Jackson’s acrylic on canvas piece, for example. Her original vision was to create a desert landscape, but a mistake resulted in painting an ocean view instead, filled with brilliant blue color.
“Sometimes mistakes end up being a good thing,” Jackson noted.
And sometimes the process of creating art can be cathartic and healing, as was the case for artist Christopher Cagle. He said his watercolor creation, “Map of Your Body,” was instrumental in helping him recover from a breakup.
“While making this, I was able to take some of my hurt and put it into this piece,” he said. “It’s very personal, and really does help me process my emotions.”
Other students build upon personal experience, using photographs to derive inspiration.
Denecia Ellis-Clarit used a series of photographs depicting sunsets and this year’s “supermoon” to create an ethereal, digital print titled, “Cloud Dragon,” in which the mystical creature seemingly appears in a sky full of moons and sunset hues.
One of the aspects Ellis-Clarit appreciates most about art is that it is inclusive to a vast variety of mediums, from photography and painting to sculpture and needlework.
“Art can be anything,” she said, “And that’s what makes it so enjoyable.”
Kay Stafford took inspiration from a personal photograph — and a literal stroke of luck.
“When I started this piece, I didn’t know what I wanted to paint; I only knew I wanted to have texture,” Stafford said. “So, I just started painting splotches all over the canvas, and when I looked at it later, it reminded me of leaves.
“Then, I took colored pencils and a marker and began to outline what I could see in the piece. I showed it to my teacher, John Domino, and asked his opinion on what I needed to do next.”
“‘I think you’re done,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t need anything else,’” Stafford recalled. “That was a good lesson for teaching me that you can do too much sometimes — art doesn’t need to be overworked.”
Although viewers undoubtedly picked out their own favorites in the showcase, ultimately, the judges’ opinions were the ones that determined rewards.
Before announcing the winners, the presenter thanked all of the students for presenting their work. After all, even though each piece of art is always interpreted differently according to the eye of the beholder, one thing is certain: each piece is personal to the one who created it, and each one tells a story.
Winners in the competition were:
Ceramics: Carmen Liana, first place; Ashley Watkins, second place; Taylor Ruppel, honorable mention.
Sculpture: Jordan Thompson, first place; Chelsea Miller, second place; Robin Carter and Horace Williams, honorable mention.
Drawing: Brandon Hollis, first place; Jihyun Lee, second place; Antakeyda Williams, honorable mention.
Painting: Horace Williams, first place; Brandon Hollis, second place; Bethany DeMott and Goose Withner, honorable mention.
Graphics and Photo Manipulation: Galen Coles, first place; Ten Deshato, second place; Kimberly Bicknese and Jessica Pina, honorable mention.
Photography: Kelly McGuire, first place; Zachary Hairr, second place; Sky Neary, honorable mention.
The exhibit will be on display at the Arts Council through Nov. 29.