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Southern Arts Society presents awards
Trail Photo Competition First Place winner, Ellen Devenny, with her piece, "The Bamboo Stand".

The annual "I am Woman" art competition and exhibit is dedicated to womanhood, the feminine or the essence of being a woman. Since 2004, Southern Arts Society has invited artists to express their interpretation of the feminine and compete for prizes. Over 70 works of art were entered in this year's competition by artists from around the region. Art was presented in a variety of media - painting, pottery, photography, mixed media and textiles. Judging the artwork was April Flanders, a studio artist living and making art in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She has taught printmaking for fourteen years at various universities nationally and internationally. Currently, Ms. Flanders is an Associate Professor of Studio Art at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Ms. Flanders was invited to select first, second and third place prizes along with three merit awards from the entries.
Ms. Flanders comments "This exhibition is filled with a delightful and engaging range of media, skill and talent. In choosing the works for these awards, I was most interested in a combination of technical skill and conceptual investigation into women's roles in our society. The creative response to the title: I Am Woman is wide ranging. We are mothers, sisters, caretakers, peacemakers, goddesses, and objects of desire. Reconciling these different roles demands a multitude of voices and ideas".
Following are the winners chosen by Ms. Flanders: 1st Place went to Jerry Taliaferro of Charlotte for his photograph "Mother Earth" which is a portrait of his wife Debra. Ms. Flanders says "This piece, Mother Earth, is printed on a refreshingly large scale with careful attention paid to the composition overall value scheme of the piece. The cracked mud and contemplative look on this woman's face conjures an inner dialogue."
2nd Place went to Lori McAdams from Belmont for her painting "Purple Girl" done in watercolor, acrylic, and gesso. Ms. Flanders comments "Purple Girl is a tender examination of the relationship between a daughter and mother, while also engaging the viewer in the power of a collective moment and the importance of including our children in the events of our time. Beautifully rendered, in a saturated color scheme, this tiny piece holds much power."
3rd Place went to Jennifer Benson Benton of Charlotte for her photograph "Sisters". Ms. Flanders describes the impact of this piece, "Sisters, is an intimate expression of our last days of life, where the opportunity to hold a sister's hand one last time is fleetingly precious. The sense of impending loss is palpable and completely human."
Three artists were recognized with Merit Awards. Rudy Rudisill of Gastonia was selected for his sculpture "Letters From Home" made of lead clad copper, steel, paint and ink. Ms. Flanders says "Letters from Home is a testament to excellent craft and skill. The combination of surfaces and variety of metals is visually engaging, while the scale and reference to mail boxes provide visual and conceptual interest."
Brenda Beard-Bostian also from Gastonia was selected for her oil painting "Classic". According to Ms. Flanders "Classic is an expressively rendered portrait of a young girl. The limited palette, value scheme and non-traditional format speak to the skill of the painter and contribute to an open ended conceptual reading of this piece."
Alex Pietersen from Lake Wylie was recognized for merit for his photo "Tough Clay" by Ms. Flanders who comments "Tough Clay seems to summarize the expectations for the contemporary woman. This woman is getting her hands dirty, and struggling with the hard physical labor of feeding her family, all while wearing a long, probably hot, and uncomfortable dress. This well composed piece speaks of grit and determination."
TRAIL Photo Competition
This annual TRAIL Photography Competition is sponsored by the Kings Mountain Gateway Trail and Southern Arts Society. Photos submitted must have been taken on the Gateway Trail in the past two years. Judge for this show was Joshua White, Assistant Professor of Studio Art and the Studio Art Photography Area Coordinator at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Mr. White received his BFA in Photography from Northern Kentucky University, and his MFA in Photography from Arizona State University.
Mr. White gave his overall impression of the show "The Trail show offers an intimate look at a beloved trail in Kings Mountain, NC. The images in this show tell the story of that close relationship and how generations to come will be able to enjoy this place. Being in nature offers the opportunity for us to connect to something larger than ourselves, and step away from our overworked, overscheduled lives into a place of peace and reflection. These images are quiet, pensive and meditative, and give the viewer a sense of serenity."
Awards were given for first, second and third place in the competition. First Place went to Ellen Devenny of Kings Mountain for her photo "The Bamboo Stand". Mr. White comments "This image caught my attention right away. Like Ansel Adams' images of aspens, the sense of light and space in the image is exceptional. The shallow depth of field adds a sense of wonder to the image, forcing the viewer to focus on the foreground stalks of bamboo, but creating a beautiful atmosphere texture to explore and enjoy."
Ellen Devenny was also awarded second place for her photo "The Winding Path". Said Mr. White "Light! What beautiful, inviting light you have captured in this image! The subject matter could be considered more common, especially in the context of the parameters of the show, but your framing and sense of light elevate the subject matter. Excellent use of leading line. I can hear the boots crunch on the path, hear the sounds of the forest, and smell the pines. But most of all... Light!"
Third Place went to Patricia Pietersen of Lake Wylie for her photo "Textured Needles". Mr. White comments "I can smell this image, I can hear the quiet wind in the pine needles. The tonal quality of the texture of the needles in excellent, as is the placement of the three pine cones in the frame. A very simple composition at first blush, the framing holds my eye and I move around the image plane again and again."
The "I AM WOMAN" and "TRAIL" exhibits will be in the galleries of Southern Arts Society through June 17.
Southern Arts Society (SASi) Gift Shop & Gallery is located at 301 N. Piedmont Ave., Kings Mountain, NC at the intersection of Piedmont and Battleground Avenues in the historic Southern Railway Depot. SASi offers a gift shop, ongoing exhibits and art competitions, programs and classes in a variety of media for artists of all levels. Hours: Tues - Sat, 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is Free. For more information please visit SouthernArtsSociety.org, or call 704.739.5585 or email SouthernArtsSociety@gmail.com.
Submitted by Jewel Reavis


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