A sense of self

Kenai River Arts Council sponsors experimental art exhibit

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Self" will run at the Kenai Fine Arts Center, 816 Cook Avenue in Kenai, until the end of October. The Kenai Fine Arts Center is open 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call 283-7040 for more information.

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  "Construction Deconstruction" by John Lagoutaris

"Any art takes courage and comes from deep within. The piece of metal signifies the body as art. The objects within and around signify the self. We are ever changing, never empty," wrote Mary Anne Phillips of her piece "Untitled."


"Construction Deconstruction" by John Lagoutaris

The work is part of the current show at the Kenai Fine Arts Center. As Phillips' artist statement suggests, the show is a group exploration of "Self," which is also the show's title.

Phillips' work, along with the work of 11 other local artists, hangs as part of the second annual Experimental Art Exhibit for the Kenai River Council on the Arts. The Experimental Art Exhibit showcases and promotes the works of emerging and professional artists engaged in the creation of conceptual events and large scale installation works of art of a general alternative character. "Self" is an individual exploration of the sense of each artist's genuine identity demonstrated through their personal artistic media and expression.


"Baby Steps" by Joy Falls

Every piece in the show involves a variety of techniques and materials. Some works are sculptural, some incorporate elements of installation, and all the work comes from the artists' perspective on the topic of "self."


Right: "Construction Destruction" by John Lagoutaris. Middle: "Baby Steps" by Joy Falls. Bottom: "Renewal" by Tracie Stang

"Renewal," acrylic paint and found objects assembled by Tracie Stang, rests on the floor and reflects the sunlight from the gallery window at the front of the Kenai Fine Arts Center. Some of the found objects include egg shells and a basket, a potted plant and a magazine clipping.

"The trouble with 'putting all your eggs in one basket,' is that one day ... they all fall out. Through this life lesson I learned that sometimes it takes being broken to become something new," wrote Stang.

The show is filled with visual metaphors. Each artists' self-reflection takes them in a different direction, though. Joy Falls' mixed media piece, entitled "Baby Steps," incorporates the metaphor of footprints.

"My life has been a series of shaky steps, one after another, sometimes being prodded and pushed in directions I did not want to go," wrote Falls. " Then the steps became more solid and self-directing, but still uncertain. As time went by, the steps have become a meditation and life in the present moment. Each step I take is an action that, when done mindfully, directs my life and creates the essence of self."

Falls has created a sort of reflecting pool in plaster. The shape of the vessel, however, is that of two footprints.

In her mixed media assemblage, Clarice Kipp sees herself as a series of boxes spilling over with objects.

"My idea of self is a collection of all the compartments that contain the many roles played, and all the roads traveled; all the moments, both good and bad, beginning at birth. Self, to me, is continually evolving, a work in progress. Mine is not yet finished," wrote Kipp of her "Untitled."

Connie Tarbox, whose piece is titled "Solving the Self," enjoyed the opportunity to try something different.

"I really did like the idea of going outside my own medium. I usually work in stone sculpture stone. So I really made a conscious effort to move away from that, and try to come up with another way of expressing myself. I have just been gifted with a laptop computer, and so it gave me a chance to explore different programs, specifically the print shop. So I used that as a starting point," Tarbox said.

Tarbox described the Kenai River Council on the Arts' thematic choice as a process in itself. The organization accepted proposals from its constituents, chose three that spoke to them, and selected the proposal for "Self." The group then invited artists who they thought might welcome the idea or who had expressed interest in the idea of experimental art, to participate.

"An experimental art show has to do with pushing the individual artist's limits, trying new tools, and new techniques, and new ways of expressing an idea beyond the way you usually do it ... to give the artists a chance to play around, and not be creating something, necessarily, that they would sell or be long lasting, but just would be an expressive opportunity," said Tarbox of the foundations of the show.

"It was so neat to me, just to think of 12 different people, spending this time in a focused way, thinking about what in the world 'self' is. And then the products were so different, but many of them carried the idea that the self is ever-evolving," Tarbox said. "I think that's what's so exciting how rich and diverse the artistic experience can be, how individual. ... It's about digging deep and letting yourself have a little more freedom."

"Self" will run at the Kenai Fine Arts Center, 816 Cook Avenue in Kenai, until the end of October. The Kenai Fine Arts Center is open 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call 283-7040 for more information.

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