Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Is she a deceased grandmother? Or a reflection of a new mother, showing what a young woman would look like as a mournful old woman?
"I want to leave it up to the viewer to decide that," said 29-year-old Stockbridge painter, Gio Medina.
Medina was talking about his digital painting, "Full Circle," which is part of the Arts Clayton exhibit, "Circle of Life," which was celebrated during an opening reception on Friday evening.
Medina's painting received best-in-show and patron's-award honors during the reception. In the top half of the painting, there is a young woman sitting in a forest, cradling a newborn in her arms. In the bottom half, there is the upside-down image of an old woman, shrouded in purple clouds as she stands in front of a tombstone, while clutching a picture of a person.
"I wanted to show that death gives way to new life, and what's born eventually cycles down to death," said Medina.
In addition to "Circle of Life," another new exhibit, entitled, "Vessels," was also feted during the reception. Both exhibits opened at the Arts Clayton Gallery, at 136 South Main St., in Jonesboro, this week. They will not end at the same time, however. The "Circle of Life" exhibit will be on display until Dec. 18, while the "Vessels" exhibit will be on display through Nov. 24.
Twenty-nine artists have their work displayed in the "Circle of Life" exhibit, while another nine artists have work on display in the "Vessels" exhibit, said Gallery Manager Karen Powers. The "Circle of Life" exhibit is the gallery's main exhibit, however, she said.
"'Circle of Life,' is about the never-ending cycle of endings and beginnings," Powers said. "We have invited all of these artists to offer their views on the birth of something new, and the end of something old. As the year draws to a close, we have something coming to an end, and the new year will represent a new beginning."
The "Circle of Life" exhibit includes a variety of takes on the new-versus-old concept. Several pieces focused on the concept of multi-generational families, by including a grandparent, a parent and a young child.
Others took a different, and sometimes figurative, approach, including several paintings that depicted nature, animals, and one that showed a butterfly. One painting even showed the ring of a well, from which water could be drawn.
Jonesboro artist, Clayton Harris, painted a large image, with a literal circle in it. Inside the circle, Harris, a 20-year Army veteran, placed several photographs, beginning with children being born, and moving on to dictators who recruit youths into their armies, to the youths growing up to become patriotic, and later, disillusioned soldiers -- and finally, images of death.
"It is my thoughts on life, as it is in this day and time," he said. "It shows conception, birth, and all the way around until death."
Another artist in the exhibit, Jonesboro resident, Heather Middleton, chose to show the stages of life as a series of mixed-media paintings. Middleton, who also works as page designer for the Clayton News Daily, took old photographs of women, cut them out and pasted them on her canvas. She then painted around the photographs.
Two pictures showed young girls. The next image in the series showed a flapper, and the final picture showed the woman becoming a "Goddess," Middleton said. She added that ultimately, however, it is up to the person viewing the images to find their own interpretation of the "Circle of Life" in the paintings.
"It's a concept, it's an idea that is open to interpretation," she said. "That's what art is."