Several years ago during an opening of a SC juried art show at the Pickens County Museum of Art and History. I saw two fiber works of art by Jim Arendt. Fiber art always catches my eye. My eye wasn't the only one caught by Jim's work. Allen Coleman, director and curator for the museum, gave Yvette & Ansley the Director's Choice Award and a one man show.
Yvette & Ansley
The show is located at the Picken's County Museum of Art & History, 307 Johnson Street, Picken, SC www.pickenscountumuseum.org. The show opened June 23 and closed August 16.
Mike & Mackenzie
This is the wall as you enter the gallery and I must say that I almost gasp as I first saw this unit. The cutout of the child from the body of the father or as I found out grandfather, said to me that this piece was about loss.
When I asked Jim about this he said that when the idea for Mike & Mackenzie was conceived he was watching his brother struggle to hold onto daughters rapidly progressing towards adulthood. Mackenzie supplies the "absent" figure.
Jim says,"Sometime loss is a tangible thing, but often it's more of a slow erosion of our memories regarding how things were and are; and because we remember both states of a thing I think we feel it more. These things are taken from us, and time is often the culprit."
Although I really liked all the work, this piece may have been my favorite. I can't really tell you why, it just spoke to me.
Before I go any further I need to tell you that Jim uses recycled jeans as his medium. Jim is a painter but was looking for a greater connection between his content and materials. He says, " paint is a medium that is fabulous for creating artifice, but as I reflected more on how I could build meaning into my work in various ways, I began looking for material with embedded meaning that reflect the people and content in a sincere manner. Jeans contain a bit of work and sweat and wear of the wearers lifespan. Beginning with the dust of the cotton fields until they are donated to me, the entire cycle just seemed right. I've learned to listen to these little gifts of intuition and not question them overly in fear that they will fade away".
This piece actually brought tears to my eyes. I hope that this photo will show the anguish that I could see in this face. It is as if she was caught in the moment of hearing some tragic news.
Jim says, "My family has been stalked by a fair measure of all things tragic, and while I have little trouble speaking to it in general, I think weighty things can be diminished by words".
Take a good look at this woman's shirt.
Allan Coleman told me that he sent Jim the measurements of the walls in the gallery so that he would know how much space he would be working with.
All these figures are life size. The background is denim fabric and is draped. The lighting caused shadows to fall which really added to the depth of the background.
Jim's subjects are all family members.
There are many more pieces to take in. If you are any where near Pickens, SC or interested in a road trip I highly recommend this exhibit.
Jim is Director of the Randall Bryan Gallery at Coastal Carolina University. More of his work can be seen at www.jimarendt.com