Summer Exhibition

Stormwater: Studio Premiere – Resident Artist’s New Work


After 13 years of planning, Stormwater Studios, the new premier studio space in the Congaree Vista, is open and is hosting its first resident artists’ exhibition – Stormwater. The show will run through the summer so make sure you stop by.

Moving from classical painting to working in assemblage, Kirkland Smith is open to trying something new. She sees “Stormwater” as a metaphor for the floods in our lives that catch us unprepared, taking something from us as they rush past, but leaving something too. Moving to Stormwater Studios is an opportunity to make a fresh start.

Heidi Darr-Hope is comfortably lost. Comfortable, because she has faith in the process of art-making which has never failed her, assisting her in understanding life and the unpredictable world in which we live. Last year, Heidi’s art screeched to a halt as her life was filled with all things medical. A tumultuous whirlwind raged in her body, leaving in its path a storm-water flood of complications. She is just now stepping out of her personal, confusing stormwater and back into her creative process. Her new works, Stormwater Incidental Findings, are her first creative explorations into last year’s upheaval and she is slowly unearthing a fresh pathway.

Michel McNinch knew that her time watching Hurricane Maria skirt our state would be a perfect reference for the Stormwater show. She presents new landscapes with a stormy twist.

Robert Kennedy is working in pastel again and involving the figure in new ways. From these studies, he is heading to larger painted pieces.

Pat Gilmartin has created a figurative ceramic sculpture incorporating references to the new studios and gallery, as well as other new pieces inspired by the natural environment of the site. For her, a brand-new studio feels like “a clean palette, a clean canvas, a fresh start”.

Stephen Chesley has come full circle, beginning on the rivers and sea islands nearly 40 years ago. Reflecting, he is reminded of the art spirit set long before:

“I’ve just kept on ceaselessly painting in order to learn painting.”—Vincent van Gogh.

And from Edward Hopper, “If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.

Sharon Licata is working on some experimental pieces in Limestone, and because she is able to transition from inside to out in the new space, it is easier for her to work larger. These will be in addition to a continuation of the emotive table top size abstracts in Black Chlorite and Alabaster that she is known for.

A tumultuous year notwithstanding, 92-year-old Columbia artist Laura Spong will present new paintings, created in her home while recovering from health issues. She still has the talent and drive and it shows in the new works. Last year she received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts for Lifetime Achievement, South Carolina’s highest award in the arts. The City of Columbia then declared September 5, 2017, “Laura Spong Day.” Her work was exhibited at Columbia City Hall in January, and she just closed a solo exhibition at the Sumter County Gallery of Art.

Also participating are Eileen Blyth and David Yaghjian.

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