Whether natural or man-made, physical or intangible, borders are always around us. They are even within us.
On Saturday, August 15, from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., artists will shed light on the borders affecting their own lives during the opening reception of the 4th Annual SARUS Festival for Site-specific and Experimental Art at IAC’s Wabi Sabi Warehouse. The invitational art exhibition, curated by Wilmington artist Janette K. Hopper, features 19 national and regional visual and sculptural artists who developed pieces exploring the concept of borders through 2D and 3D art, as well as a live, interactive improvisational performance.
“When I think about borders, I think about so many different things,” Hopper says. “Borders can be between countries, but they can also be philosophical—barriers that rise up between families when you can’t talk about subjects.”
For Hopper, barriers from the past have carried over to the present. In one of her pieces, titled “The Divide” (48-inches by 64-inches, oil on canvas), she depicts the figures of men and women of different races reaching for each other. Reminiscent of Michelangelo’s iconic “Creazione di Adamo,” the fingers don’t quite touch.
“My paintings are representative of all different kinds of people—of all ages, races and sexes,” she continues. “We all have a common desire to reach out (I hope) and bridge the barriers between us.”
The painting is one of Hopper’s two pieces hanging in the show. In the spirit of the SARUS Festival and its focus on the experimental, Hopper was creative with her technique,. She used her palette knife to scrape paint directly to the canvas.
“Scraping gave my pieces a lot of texture,” she says. “I feel like it’s all about light and exploring and expressing yourself, as well as the issues and barriers that concern you.”
For some artists, those barriers are very personal. Artist Lorrie Wagner illustrates the crippling effect of addiction, which she describes as “creating a boundary of existence itself.”
“Lorrie’s piece was so very personal to her,” Hopper tells. “Even though you may feel helpless to make any changes, if you can do something in your art, then sometimes that can be healing.”
Healing has been especially important for artist Diane Hause, who corresponded with women in Afghanistan following the tragic events of 9/11. Her piece, titled “Burqua with Held Mask” (14-inches by 16-inches, photo of 3D work), is from her 2000 series titled “Thinly Veiled Misogyny and a Perpetual State of Inconsequence.”
“It expresses the idea of containment physically, as well as psychologically, and the separateness we experience within cultural perceived differences,” Hause explains. “The burqua express the ‘barrier’ of the women who are forced behind the veils from their own selves and those of us outside the veil ‘observing’ them.”
Hopper encourages guests to make observations of their own during the festival’s opening. After exploring the pieces hanging inside Wabi Sabi, guests will be invited outside for the illumination of Rachael Crawford Goolsby’s video installation.
Participating artists also include: Ben Billingsley, Peggy Cleary, Harry Davis, Donald Furst, Jeffery Geller, Naomi Greenburg, JoAnn Hart, Karola Luttringhaus, Colleen Ringrose, Carla Rokes, Lisa Sheets, Vicky Smith, Ralph Steeds, and Paul VanZandt.
Among the group, perhaps Hart put the exhibit into perspective best:
“My images are inspired by my own experience. The observers bring their own interpretations to the art images, understanding that perception is about personal boundaries.”
For guests unable to explore those boundaries during the opening reception, the Wabi Sabi Warehouse will again open its doors for the closing reception August 22.