There are five artists included in the Material Matters exhibit, but after seeing it, I just keep thinking about the pig intestines. And the clumps of fake hair spilling out of them. But more on that later.
Material Matters is curated by Kristy Bishop, North Charleston's 2012-2013 artist-in-residence. She chose the artists — Lauren Frances Moore of Silver Spring, Md., Conrad Guevara of San Francisco, Katya Usvitsky of Brooklyn, former local Sarah Boyts Yoder, and current local Camela Guevara — mainly because she admires what they do, but also because they all work in unusual materials.
And although you might not immediately notice that underlying current when you look at the artwork, thanks to Bishop's artful placement, the show appears cohesive. She's paired Yoder's paintings and Camela Guevara's embroidery and beadwork pieces together, which highlights both artists' attention to delicacy and color. Yoder's paintings are an interpretation of her thoughts on what it means to have a guide, whether internal or external, and refer to stars and the constellations by repeating a simple cross. Her bold linework and dark skies offer a sharp contrast to Camela Guevara's pieces, yet I thought it worked well.
Guevara, who is a seamstress and a drummer as well as an artist, works with thread, fabric, beads, and sequins, often in abstract shapes. One piece in particular, "braid" is especially striking — it shows off the detailed beadwork for which Guevara is known. Her embroidery pieces, too, which are done on soft-colored fabrics with similar-colored thread that almost seems to disappear, are simple and aesthetically pleasing. They work well placed next to Yoder's bright mixed-media paintings.
I should note that most of College of Charleston grad Conrad Guevara's work, unfortunately, hadn't yet arrived due to post office delays when I visited, so I was only able to see one piece of his (the rest has since come). One of Guevara's inspirations is street art, and you could see that in the glossy teal, pink, and red abstract shapes of his small mixed-media piece that was on display. He works in 2D, 3D, and what he calls 2.5D, using found objects and affordable materials like cut paper, mylar, and balloons.
Usvitsky and Moore are harder to fit in with the other artists' works. Usvitsky uses pantyhose to create bulbous, clustered shapes that refer to ideas about femininity and motherhood. Often, the shapes resemble an egg sac or evoke similar reproductive shapes, and one work, "Self-Consumer," looks sort of like a lumpy birth canal. They're strange and mostly made me think of fish eggs.
And now for the pig intestines. Moore's pieces are overtly disgusting, featuring pieces of preserved intestine usually stuffed with fake hair. There's one installation that includes intestine, hair, and what looks like cellophane with ominous yellow-brown stains on it that I really didn't want to linger over. Moore's other most noticeably unsettling work was a wide piece of intestine that angled out and down, sort of like a faucet, and had a thick brown ponytail of hair extensions coming out of it. It was entitled "Tail Hole." Frankly, it seemed to me like pure shock art.