Blood and Honey: An exhibition that sticks with you


Photo by: Contributed Photo

An installation from Adrian Rhodes’ “Blood and Honey” exhibition.

From July 28 to Aug. 28, the University Place Gallery (UPG) hosted Adrian Rhodes, a professional artist from Hartsville, SC, and displayed her work in an exhibition titled “Blood and Honey.”

Rhodes has been active as an artist in the area for years. Colleen Critcher, the coordinator of UPG, is part of a panel of visual art faculty members who decide which artists to showcase in the gallery, and this panel decided to display “Blood and Honey.”

Using painting, printmaking and installation art, Rhodes conveyed concepts of mortality, the matrilineal and human nature using bees, bear claw marks, pomegranates and sky charts as symbols. Her message was an extraordinarily personal one, delving into the past with the death of her mother and transitioning into her own identity as a mother; she also explores the disconnect between these two roles as they never coincide.

“All of my work is related to my own personal experience,” Rhodes said. “I have a very strong belief that artists can only tell their own story.”

The autobiographical nature of her work is evident through the separate elements. For example, her use of sky charts, Ursa Major and bear claw marks are a testament to the loss of control, mourning and her emotional wounds. The bear claw marks rip through separate charts and cause paper to spill out in some places while some rips are sewn up.

Rhodes said the way the world can sometimes upend your life can affect you both artistically and emotionally.

“For me, it’s like an emotional kind of wounding,” Rhodes said. “That disruptive element that comes in and undoes that control that you look for when you’re cataloging stars.”

This emotional disruption, specifically the loss of her mother, is a through-line throughout much of the exhibit, which weaves together the idea of loss and motherhood and this reality of wanting to regain control.

Ironically, keeping with the theme of a loss of control, the opening of this exhibition was in March, just before the shutdown with the pandemic. It was a site-specific exhibition, meaning that the installation art was made specifically to fit the gallery.

With the gallery not being open for viewing, Critcher switched to a virtual form of advertisement and showcasing, using the UPG website, Facebook and Instagram to display the exhibit. Videos were also linked to the website that shows Rhodes discussing her artwork, as well as an interview between her and Critcher. With the re-opening of the gallery in late June, the gallery was once again able to be physically viewed.

Even though the “Blood and Honey” exhibition ended on Aug. 28, images of the art can be found on the UPG website and the UPG Instagram page. Also, links to videos of the interview with Rhodes and her artist’s talk can be found through the UPG website.