Whenever a collection of artists come together for a single show, it always seems to yield a certain kind of magic. Local gallery and tattoo parlor Artfuel certainly revels in this concept. They routinely feature the works of Port City visionaries and showcase the wonders that can happen when different perspectives are housed under the same roof.
On February 4, the gallery unveiled their latest show, Volume 40, which features the works of artists Rebekah Todd, Kristen Crouch, Joanna Frye, and Todd Carignan, as well as Saggy Jugg Pottery. The exhibition will hang for eight weeks.
Todd—a musician who also performed during the opening reception—moved to Wilmington last October after receiving her BFA in painting and drawing from ECU. Since, she has been planting her roots in the Port City by acquiring studio space at Art Factory and playing her folk/blues music across town (and with her outfit Rebekah Todd and the Odyssey). She came into contact with the owners of Artfuel, Sarah Peacock and Dave Tollefson, saw her play a set at Art Factory.
In the show, she is displaying “Safe and Sound.” “[It] is inspired by my friend Kelly Harrell’s newly born baby, Knox,” Todd tells. “While she was pregnant, Kelly sent me a few images from her sonogram. I told her that I would like to try and paint the images.”
Todd generally allows the mood of the day to inspire her work rather than make the creative process a regimented practice. Another piece on display simply came from a whim to explore how wild she could get with paint. Entitled “Ember Dream,” the painting was derived from throwing paint onto the paper and letting it drip.
“The next day I came in and began to see mountains in the painting, so I started pulling the images out mountains out of my piece,” Todd explains.
Fellow Artfuel artist Karen Crouch’s visual prowess comes from a fashion background. New York City and fashion design were etched into her mind since childhood. It wasn’t until discovering the intimacy of a darkroom while taking a photography class that her muses took her to SCAD for photography and sculpture. Her first show occurred in 2012 as part of the SCAD photography program’s annual juried show, “Silver and Ink.” Her work has been exhibited in New Jersey, Georgia and now North Carolina.
Crouch—who works out of ACME Studios and has volunteered with Cameron Art Museum, Cucalorus Film Festival and the local nonprofit Kids Making It—has pieces from her series “I Will Live On,” as well as some paintings and digital sculpture in Artfuel Vol. 40. Comprising photos and sculpture, “I Will Live On” is inspired by the life and death of her older brother, Josh, who passed away when she was 15.
“The contrasting elements in the photos and sculptures speak to the questions and inconsistencies surrounding his sudden death in New York City,” Crouch describes. “His pictures and words provide tangible information, like imagery and titles, but it is in the process of creating each piece that the work comes alive.”
Putting the series together was both heartfelt and tedious. Creating the work allowed Crouch to heal, while also ensuring Josh’s immortality through art.
Aside from photography and sculpture, Crouch recently has discovered a passion for curation and art critique. She will be debuting the first show she has put together, called “30 Under 30,” at ACME on March 27. (Submissions are being accepted through February 28.)
Kearnersville native Frye has been interested in painting since early childhood and began executing her craft via depictions of horses. Since, she has gone on to create a mural with children of the Seguin Unified School District in Texas. She also worked with nonprofits Big Sky Countries and Kids Around the World to create a mural in a New Orleans after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Her 2D figure paintings highlight her interest in the line and form of the human body—something she discovered an interest in after being exposed to impressionistic work at an early age. “[I like] the solidity and weight of it but also the lightness [of the line of the human body],” she says—“the way a specific position can evoke such emotion.”
Her pieces in Volume 40 take on new explorations in the idea of subtraction. She creates a figure in its entirety and then revisits it, to decide which components to take away. “I want there to be a bit of tension in a painting; a feeling that keeps you in caught up in the image, searching for more,” Frye details.
Frye is displaying her shell-bottle pieces at Artfuel, too. She first discovered her knack for sea-inspired sculpture after becoming co-founder and teacher of an after-school program in California. Finding the ocean a sanctuary, the artist admits, “It is the place I go to talk to God, to reset, to breathe. Of course, I love all of the beautiful shells and sea life that come from it. I have also always loved antique bottles; the history behind them and beauty that time has imbued them with. It only seems natural to bring the two together, and that is what I do. Each piece is inherently unique, and tells a story of its own.”
Artfuel Vol. 40
Artwork by Rebekah Todd, Kristen Crouch, Joanna Frye, Todd Carignan, and Saggy Jugg Pottery
Artfuel Inc., 2165 Wrightsville Ave.
Hangs for eight weeks