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The Art of Survival — Spartanburg Exhibits Works Created During Pandemic

"Hope" by Carol Cole Czeczot "Hope" by Carol Cole Czeczot

Artists Collective | Spartanburg will host The Art of Survival, an art exhibition on tap for Jan. 5-Feb. 27, 2021, that will explore how regional artists have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed its influence creatively.

The exhibit will have more than 70 visual artists from Upstate South Carolina participating. The general public will be able to see the exhibition Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at no charge. All pandemic safety protocols will be observed when entering the building.

“This exhibition was conceived in early April of this year when I was sharing on Facebook with some fellow artists how it felt to get motivated to work when all else was falling apart due to the pandemic,” the Collective’s Board Chair Beth Regula said. “The discussion led to motivating each other to continue to work and create. Knowing that motivation to make art comes sometimes when an exhibit is scheduled, I proposed that we encourage each other in the community and then come together at Artists Collective | Spartanburg for an exhibit.”

Regula’s idea took root with the Collective’s Management Board, and the exhibition was scheduled for January and February 2021. “Artists are good recorders of history, and we felt that this is a major historic event and this was our way to help the artists of the area show their work and express their feelings about ‘surviving’ this Age of COVID,” Regula said. The subtitle to The Art of Survival is “An Exhibition of Epidemic Proportions.”

The submitted works of art do not have to be about the pandemic but must have been produced during it. Entries will be judged by local noted citizens or celebrities for these categories:

  • Most Fearful

  • Most Hopeful

  • Most Moving

  • Most Creative

  • It’s 2020

  • People’s Choice

  • Best in Show

One of the most powerful aspects of this exhibition is the artists’ statements that will accompany each entry. “Our plan is to hang the statements with the works,” Regula said. “When I read some of these statements my heart soared with hope and cried for what many people have been going through. To me, this is the core of this exhibit: survival through art.” 

An example of these powerful statements is by artist Anna Seiler, whose entry shows a distressed and bleeding woman holding religious icons, while walking through turbulent water. It reads: “This piece serves as a direct representation of the struggles personally faced this year. Isolation, sacrifice, physical trauma, and a struggle with faith. She holds tight the sacrament, the lamb, which also holds closed her purple drape, the only thing keeping her from being completely exposed. She walks barefoot through a river, injured and in the nighttime. The words ‘Gott has uns vergessen’ are German for ‘God has forgotten us,’ the sentiment of wavering faith in a time of struggle.”

In addition to the art being on physical display in the Collective’s Solomon Gallery, images of the entries will be posted to the Collective’s website, ArtistsCollectiveSpartanburg.org. People will be able vote for their favorite artists by donating $5 to the “People’s Choice” award.

There is also a dedicated donation campaign on the website’s homepage. “Any and all monies collected through the exhibition will be used for awards,” Regula said. “The more money that is donated, the more the artists will receive.

“I think this exhibit has the potential to give a ‘visual voice’ to the artists of the area during a time when it may be needed most,” Regula continued. “I really feel that this has the potential to be a historic exhibit for Spartanburg.”

Artists Collective | Spartanburg is a membership-based art center in Spartanburg, located at 578 West Main St. It has three art galleries, about 30 member studios, two stages, an extensive gift shop, and locally made art throughout the three-story building that was originally a Baptist church. As one of the Spartanburg’s leading art institutions, it has about 50 members and hosts three art exhibitions each month by members and guest artists. It is a nonprofit agency with a primary focus on the advancement of its members and presenting local art to the general public. For more information, please visit online: ArtsCollectiveSpartanburg.org.

 

"Unprecedented" by Barb Bordogna — acrylic on canvas

My work explores empty store front space that could serve as a metaphor for the displacements of this “unprecedented” year. I enjoyed the light and shadow inside the Montgomery Building contrasted with the busy traffic on Church Street. This painting is one of several I have done of the same subject.  It is both empty and full, quiet and loud, like the experiences of a pandemic world.

 

"Hope" by Carol Cole Czeczot — oil

This painting sat unfinished in my studio until COVID-19 emerged. As the pandemic amplified political and societal stresses, I felt led to complete it as an expression of hope. We, like sunflowers, yearn to turn from darkness toward the light of better days.

 

"Gott Hat Uns Vergessen" by Anna Seiler — acrylic

This piece serves as a direct representation of the struggles personally faced this year. Isolation, sacrifice, physical trauma, and a struggle with faith. She holds tight the sacrament, the lamb, which also holds close her purple drape, the only thing keeping her from being completely exposed. She walks barefoot through a river, injured, and in the night time. The words "Gott has uns vergessen" are German for "God has forgotten us,” the sentiment of wavering faith in a time of struggle.

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