A group of Charleston contemporary artists create a show at Redux to make their voices heard 

Hello My Name is...

click to enlarge thornton.jpg

Heather Thornton

There are a few reasons that Charleston artist Andrew King created and pitched the idea for Hello, My Name Is... to Redux Contemporary Art Center. The first is that the show, which features King's work alongside three other local artists, needed a big space to exist in, and Redux has that in spades. The second is that King felt a kinship with the other three artists he selected: Anna Hopkins, Jonathan Rypkema, and Heather Thornton, because they all began their studies in one artistic medium and then evolved into another.

That struck a chord with King, who started out as a photographer.

"Photography was my introduction to formal arts education," he says. "I studied photography at the College of Charleston, and developed a really good mentor relationship with Michelle Von Parys, who's the head of the photography program over there. She opened my eyes to bigger art ideas, and I really latched onto conceptual art. I began painting as well, and I began realizing that some ideas work better in other mediums, so my process kind of became letting what I wanted to make the art about dictate what medium it would be in."

click to enlarge Originally creating work solely in the medium of photography, King now uses collage and printmaking techniques - ANDREW KING
  • Andrew King
  • Originally creating work solely in the medium of photography, King now uses collage and printmaking techniques

For the Hello, My Name Is... show, King focused largely on collage and printmaking pieces, mostly based around images of those who survived horrific natural or man-made disasters.

"These are all pieces where I could start from a preexisting image that I came across," King says, "like images of people who survived a war. Disturbing images can be so powerful, and I can integrate them into the printmaking process."

Collage and printmaking might sound like a radical departure from the photography that King started with, but even in the beginning, he never took conventional photos.

"With my photography work, my process was that I would go hunker down in a lighting studio and come up with ideas," he says. "I was really into technical processes. It was never straightforward representational photography. I was always into using multiple exposures and the layering of images. So now I take the photography work and expand on it."

King felt a connection with Rypkema, Hopkins, and Thornton and they were the artists he had in mind when he pitched the Hello, My Name Is... show to Redux.

"The cool thing with these artists is that everyone has adapted their approach and works beyond the medium they were studying in school," King says. "Heather, for example, has moved beyond her more traditional oil painting and she's doing collages. And Jonathan combines his paintings with sculpture and incorporates these powerful environmental images. It was nice finding other people who had a process that didn't fit into a clean little box. It's just the art they want to make that's reflective of who they are."

click to enlarge Artists like Jonathan Rypkema are looking for affordable spaces in which to show their work - JONATHAN RYPKEMA
  • Jonathan Rypkema
  • Artists like Jonathan Rypkema are looking for affordable spaces in which to show their work

For Rypkema, his love of sculpture grew from a love of architecture.

"In the beginning, I really enjoyed graffiti and street-art," Rypkema says, "and then after being at school for a little bit I started taking more sculpture classes and becoming more interested in sculpture and how a piece of artwork fits in a space. I became fascinated with the physical presence a piece can have. I'd always been interested in architecture, so I think it's something that's been with me for a while. I'd go into houses or buildings or hotels or restaurants and I'd pick up things about the design and how it engages with the viewer."

But it's the final reason that King pitched Hello, My Name Is... that's perhaps the most interesting. It's essentially a do-it-yourself art show created to draw attention to what King and many other struggling artists in the Charleston area are going through: A lack of viable, affordable spaces to display what they do.

"We're representing an arts scene that isn't shown in our city," King says. "There are a lot of really strong artists who come out of college and find that there's not really an environment to show their work here. So a lot of people leave for that reason. I was talking to the other artists about that and we came up with a sort of DIY approach. Redux came to mind right away because they have a large enough space and are willing to go into that more contemporary, conceptual world."

King says that affordability is a major problem.

"We need space," he says, "and the space in downtown Charleston isn't affordable. Artists are competing with major businesses that are renting spaces. I think that's what's interesting about Redux is that they're able to provide these opportunities without being so attached to commercial aspects of the work."

Rypkema agrees that Redux's help is invaluable, and says that the artists themselves have to do some of the work in terms of discovering new avenues to display their art.

"I think it's going to take more work on our part," he says. "But I don't know what that step would be. There are limited spaces to show art, but I'm not sure what that next step looks like."

Perhaps that next step is more shows like Hello, My Name Is...

"The dream scenario is that it would inspire other artists to do it themselves, rather than having them get frustrated and give up," King says. "That's the only way the art and cultural scenes will grow is if artists are making work that's important to them and sharing it with people."


Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Classified Listings

Powered by Foundation   © Copyright 2019, Charleston City Paper   RSS