Hyman gallery features local artists

Lindsay Buchanan, Senior Writer

Insects, pottery, warfare and life-size sculpture are just some of the things on display in the current Art Gallery Series at the Hyman Fine Arts Center.

Works from three local artists, including a Francis Marion fine arts professor, are currently part of an Art Gallery Series that is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sept. 23. The artists featured include John Whitman, Linda Wiegert and Gregory Fry, FMU associate professor of art in graphic design.

Since each of the artists specialize in a different area of fine art, their respective works on display allow the viewers to experience something new each time they turn around as they move through the gallery.

Jessica Harding, a sophomore majoring in early childhood education, became interested in the new display when she came into the gallery to enjoy the quiet and air conditioning while waiting for her next class.

“I think everything in here is interesting,” Harding said. “It’s quiet. I like museums and this makes me feel like I’m in one.”

Harding was especially taken with the pottery of Wiegert, a resident of Marion, who creates functional pieces of pottery such as vases and urns and then turns the pottery into works of art by adding unusual and intriguing features. Wiegert, who is an active teaching and producing artist, also creates stunning sculptural pieces such as a series of almost life-like robes made from clay that are on display in the gallery.

“I think the pottery is cool,” Harding said. “I would buy something like that. I like the colors.”

Most of the items on display throughout the gallery are available for purchase by interested buyers, including the works of Fry. He has already successfully sold some of his pieces.

Fry, who has been teaching at FMU since 2002, said that his current work uses images of items such as insects and weapons that are commonly overlooked by artists.

“There’s a certain beauty to insects,” Fry said when describing how he chose his subject matter. “I kind of somehow relate to the insect, even though it is often after getting bitten or stung. I think it [art] is a way of getting over those fears.”

Although Fry is a print-maker by trade he chose to explore new mediums in this series of prints, including oil painting. By using multiple techniques, from hand-making textured paper through a process called stringing to incorporating actual photographs that have been digitally enhanced, Fry is able to create a unique and intriguing new way to look at items most people would never give a second glance.

Fry said the content of his art comes from events that happen within his own life as well as external events such as terrorism and disease. Fry creates his pieces in a studio he maintains in Florence. He is currently working on approaching projects digitally through a new angle such as book art.

Sitting center stage in the gallery is one of the most captivating pieces in the series, a life-size sculpture of a woman’s body carved in wood. This prominent piece is the work of Whitman, a sculpture artist who lives and works in Mullins. Whitman, who also has four other sculptures in the show, is a teacher at Mullins High School where he heads the Fine Arts Department.
According to Whitman, his artwork investigates nature from different points of view, using realism mixed with abstraction. When a viewer studies his work, Whitman’s desire is that they will pull from their own experiences. Whitman sculpts primarily in wood and stone, trying to invoke in the viewer a desire to see and touch. When working in wood, Whitman tries to bring out the true color of the wood by using natural oils instead of stains.

In late September, a new gallery series will move into Hyman showcasing the works of Honor Marks, a renowned two-dimensional artist who grew up in Charleston.