December 2014 - January 2015 / South Carolina Department of Commerce
The South Carolina Department of Commerce, in collaboration with CC: Curating & Collections’s South Carolina Curatorial Initiative, is pleased to present Carolina Consciousness an exhibition of contemporary South Carolinian artists: Mary Gilkerson, Beth Melton and Kirkland Smith. Aligning the works, is the inherent relationship of material and/or subject matter to each artists’ identity as a Southerner. Working in the more traditional medium of oil painting Gilkerson captures regional roadsides from the upstate and Congaree down to the low country as she traverses the state. Focusing on the familiar rural-scape, she depicts a multitude of agriculturally oriented vignettes such as the Minervaville farm where she rides her horse or the familial plot on Edisto Island connecting viewers to the experience of these places through light and color. Melton’s family was involved in the textile industry prompting her interest in 18th century American fabrics and weaving practices. Since 2001, she has sculpted with a bolt of fabric from a decommissioned textile mill in Union, SC creating installations that carve the light and exhibition space through suspended lengths of the Union fabric extending the touch and feel of the material into space. Melton’s Haptic drawing series are translations of her typical sculptures flattened into a two-dimensional record of the textile bolt through a process of layering fabric and paper with ink and graphite. Smith’s assemblages of consumer detritus are compiled into portraits of the symbols and people that she identifies as most representative of American ideals and culture, especially South Carolina. Living in a society of the easily disposable and discarded, she looks at the by products of our consumption to reveal what we as a community cherish and protect linking her practice to a message of redemption.