Durham Arts Council displays work of Parker, Feir, Assani

Large amounts of wool, recycled washers and spoons are just a few of the objects on display in the Durham Arts Council galleries through Jan. 2.

The works of artists Sharron Parker, Lawrence Feir and Nadjib Adebola Assani were chosen for the galleries because of their unique media and styles, said Margaret DeMott, director of artist services for the council. Parker, who studied at Duke University and UNC-Greensboro, makes handmade felt sculptures. An ancient art exhibit in New York City in 1980 inspired her work.

“There were amazing felted pieces from Siberia that were preserved from permafrost in underground tombs,” she said.

The pieces had their original colors and dated back to 500 B.C. Parker said felting originated in the Stone Age.

Parker’s pieces in the gallery include large abstract pieces and landscapes. She uses dyed pieces of wool and lays them out in many piles according to colors she wants.

“I mix wool colors like a painter mixes paint on a palette,” she said.

Next she layers her selections of wool perpendicularly to create a base. She adds curls from sheep or silk on top and connects many sheets of wool together to create her finished surfaces.

“Last, I wash it in hot soapy water and continually push it and roll it with my hands until it starts to shrink together,” Parker said.

Parker’s felt art, which sells for anywhere from $250 to $4,500, is mostly inspired by rocks, light and color.

“I really hope more people will try felting,” Parker said.

Feir’s art in the gallery is from another interesting medium.

“Most of my pieces are made from ‘drops,’ or leftover material, collected and assembled,” he said.

Feir said inspiration for his art came gradually. He said he had always worked with the human form and enjoyed sculpture, but six or seven years ago, he began to look for ways to render the 3-D curves of the human body.

Because he had always liked working with steel, he said he combined steel, welding and body casts to create the pieces he does now.

While at a scrapyard, Feir said he found washers that he used to make his first piece.

“I use a hammer and an anvil, and I bend and hammer things until I get the curves I want,” he said.

He then welds his pieces together to create massive hanging steel works of art, all modeled after the shapes of male and female human bodies.

Feir said his first piece, made from washers, sold immediately for $225.

“Since then, things have progressed quite a bit because my last piece sold for $9,250,” he said.

His gallery pieces include some doorways with knobs on the human forms, he said.

“There’s a steel one with a female backside with a padlock called Chastity,” Feir said.

DeMott said Feir’s unique style was really exciting for the gallery.

“There are some really large, epic pieces with their 3-D work,” she said.

DeMott said Assani, who received the gallery’s Emerging Artist Grant this past year, creates really exciting work, which is ultimately in film.

“His work on display shows the process of how he gets to his films,” she said.

DeMott said Assani first makes drawings, and then he creates clay models. He uses those models to make 3-D figures for films.

“He has a fantasy story on mythic figures acting out core values that come out of his religious heritage,” she said.

DeMott said the artists’ work is worth seeing because they are large, use unique styles and media, and all feature 3-D elements, which is unusual in art.

“There’s nothing like seeing this art in person,” she said.


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