Whimsy meets nature

Posted: Thursday, June 03, 2010

There's something rather whimsical about the pieces by Laura Faeo and Regina McAbee on display at the Kenai Fine Arts Center this month.

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Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Regina McAbee's birch bark vessels are on display at the Kenai Fine Arts Center.

Faeo's paintings and ceramic art and McAbee's birch bark masterpieces compliment each other and both share the same muse: Mother Nature.

"I like animals and I'm a very spiritual kind of person and it kind of comes out in what I've done," said Faeo, of Nikiski.

McAbee, originally from Alabama but who has called Soldotna home for 14 years, said her inspiration comes from the very bark which she creates her art.

"I can see things in it even out in the wilderness," she said, adding that she sees images, like faces, in the bark when she harvests it for her canvas.

"I'm striving to honor nature's uniqueness in the bark with my own one-of-a-kind creation in it," she said.

McAbee said she feels strongly that the bark she uses is only taken from trees that are cut for clearing.

And that's not the only natural ingredient she uses for her birch bark vessels. McAbee said she hand sews her bowls together using thread made from moose intestines, dyed with Alaskan berries, and lubricated with beeswax to help slide it through the bark.

"It's a time consuming process but it's really worth for me," she said.

Her pieces in this show include some carving and embroidery in the bark with different types of floral images. She also incorporates glass silks sewn into her pieces and illuminated from behind with LED lights to allow the light to shine through.

"I always strive to make something new with each piece of bark I get," she said.

One piece in particular titled "Outgoing tide at dawn," was simply created by what was naturally depicted in the bark, she said, but enhanced by her own styles and techniques.

Faeo's mystical and bestial pottery seems lighthearted with Native Alaskan elements.

She said she uses her art as a way to de-stress.

"I've had very tragic experiences in my life art is a kind of therapy for me, a way of turning negative to positive," she said.

Faeo's pieces for the June exhibit are bigger, and more high end than her standing display in the center's gallery of mugs with hooves sticking out and special beading.

She said her ceramic art is mostly hand-built sculptures and functional work.

"Our stuff looks really nice together," Faeo said about the combined exhibit.

"We don't even talk. It's kind of like the style that we have that compliments each other," McAbee said. "It always seems to blend wonderfully together."

This is the artists' fourth show at the Kenai Fine Arts Center, according to McAbee. A First Thursday reception for the exhibit will be held tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. at the center in Old Town Kenai.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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