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'Out of the Box' exceeds expectations at Arts Clayton

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

In the past, many of the exhibits at Arts Clayton have been based on seasonal themes, in which artists from the Southern Crescent illustrate the world they see.

The "Out of the Box" exhibit, however, which premiered on Thursday, cuts a bold new path, bringing the imaginations of the artists to the forefront.

The exhibit, featuring more than 100 daring, racy, introspective, and imaginative pieces from local artists, will remain on display at Arts Clayton gallery in Jonesboro until Aug.1.

Karen Powers, Arts Clayton gallery manger, said the exhibit has "exceeded our expectations completely."

"It's one of the most thought-provoking exhibits that we have ever had," said Powers. "I challenged our artists with this theme, so everything is very different. A lot of the artists took the opportunity to use a medium that they were unfamiliar with."

Among the pieces are stained glass art, creative photography, canvas paintings, and a variety of three-dimensional works. Several notable works are: "Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting," a multi-colored collage of afro-clad martial artists;"The Thing," a lemur-looking creature composed of papier-mâché; "Blooming Nails," a tree in which the leaves are intricately-painted, press-on fingernails.

"You can look at each of these pieces and see that they were first created in the artist's mind," said Ruth Roberts, one of the artists and a choir director at Bethel Baptist Church in Jonesboro.

Her acrylic-paint-on-canvas piece, "The Church Is His Bride," has a religious theme which reveals itself only after careful scrutiny.

"I enjoyed every piece that I've seen," said Roberts. "It is creative and shows a lot of talent."

Sabrina Sheran, a part-time artist and an instructor at Beauty College of America in Forest Park, created "Blooming Nails," as well as several other three-dimensional pieces.

She said the exhibit gave her a stage to display artwork which is out of the norm.

"Usually, I use colored pencils and acrylic paints," said Sheran. "I wanted to try to show what I do in my workplace. To expand beyond realism and to actually get into the artist's mind ... that's what I enjoy."

Gallery assistant, Courtney Fort, said the exhibit is "my favorite exhibit we've had since I've been here."

"I love the diversity," said Fort. "It's more of a mindscape than a landscape, and that generates a lot of conversation."

For more information, go to www.artsclayton.org.