Despite the perceived chaos, great abstract paintings offer a sense of place. Artist Sally King Benedict epitomizes that skill. Through a life of travel, she reveals a sense of place and balance in her lively and colorful works. Now a sought after painter, Benedict has done projects for Marysia Swimwear and the new Spectator Hotel in downtown Charleston. However, before her success, Benedict kept a small studio in Redux Contemporary Arts Center. And it's those beginning processes and inspirations that she revisited for her upcoming George Gallery show, "Returning."
"I am so happy for the growth that Redux has had over the past five years and I'm very grateful for the time I spent there. I loved having contemporaries to learn from and share with in the classroom and workshops," says Benedict.
The theme for "Returning" was actually inspired by her commissioned project she recently completed for The Spectator, a new luxury hotel in Charleston. The hotel's interior designer contracted Benedict to use a painting from her early career as inspiration for work within the hotel. What resulted was a rediscovery of color palettes and shapes she'd not explored since her earlier days as an emerging artist.
"In creating this new body of work, the goal is to revisit elements and techniques from the past in an effort to feel reenergized by the city that started my career," says Benedict. "I hope to come full-circle and let the work speak for itself on a totally abstracted level."
For instance, the use of black has returned as a blueprint for her compositions, though her signature fresh and vibrant structures serve as the foundation in her works for "Returning." Effervescent blue hues and neon accents, also a common thread in Benedict's work, are very present in her pieces for the show. She says those hint of her recent travels to Big Sur and Nantucket.
Lately Benedict says she's been more open to exploring paper, collage, and ceramics. That influence can be seen in her layered compositions. Benedict is not afraid to put a lot of paint and texture on the canvas, but she still maintains a sense of lightness given the depths of shape and construct.
Outside of her paintings, Charleston has continued to provide a backdrop for Benedict's projects. She recently had the opportunity to work with another former Charlestonian, the luxury swim and resort wear line Marysia Swim on their Resort '16 line. The collection is sprinkled with color, lines, and abstract structures that are very representative of Benedict's work.
"Creating the Resort '16 collection has been the epitome of what a collaboration has always meant in my eyes: a project where the end product is greater because of two minds rather than one," says Benedict.
A small line of letterpress cards designed by Benedict can also be found at downtown Charleston's boutique stationary shop Mac and Murphy. They feature palm trees, another recent exploration of Benedict's abstract portraiture.
Benedict has attained quite a loyal following as a darling of Charleston, and her love for travel and coastal living is ever present in her paintings. While beachy themes and colors could be called her "signature" in her pieces, Benedict maintains that what she gains from one show rarely influences her transition to the next body of work.
"When the work is done, my mind has already moved on to the next," she says.
There will be a public reception celebrating the opening of the show with the artist on Oct. 9, from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.