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Sunday September 26th

'I like surprises': FRANK Gallery mixes mediums for its latest art show

Nikki Blair's ceramics on display at the 6@FRANK exhibition at FRANK art gallery. Photo courtesy of Natalie Knox.
Buy Photos Nikki Blair's ceramics on display at the 6@FRANK exhibition at FRANK art gallery. Photo courtesy of Natalie Knox.

Geometric ceramic jars, restructured silk kimonos and encaustic wax-dipped paper might not seem like complementary works of art, but six local artists have combined these different pieces to curate the 6@FRANK exhibit at Chapel Hill’s FRANK Gallery, on display until Oct. 5. 

The exhibit displays the work of artists with many styles, cultivating a unique mixture of three-dimensional and two-dimensional artwork.

“Even though everybody's medium is so different and their approaches to their mediums are so different, it all really goes with each other's work,” said Natalie Knox, FRANK Gallery manager. 

Ceramist Linda Prager said that while all of the featured artists are female, this was not a deliberate choice. Prager said the emphasis when creating the exhibit was put on combining pieces of art that would work well together. All of the most complementary pieces just happened to be made by female artists.

“There wasn't, 'Oh, we're going to have a show with just women,' that's just the way it worked out,” Prager said. “I do think that there was a deliberate emphasis on the 2D and 3D. Throughout the whole show, you've got textures and colors and layers, and no matter which of the artists you're looking at, that's a commonality through all the pieces.”

The show is designed to pair ceramic art with paintings, fiber and mixed media work. It is a diverse collaboration, but all of the pieces blend well together, according to mixed media artist Carol Retsch-Bogart.

“Peg Gignoux's bright textiles converse beautifully with the bright, sherbet-colored tones of Nikki Blair's pottery,” Retsch-Bogart said. “And Natalie Boorman's beautiful surfaces of her pottery, I think, converse beautifully with Katherine Armacost's very atmospheric surfaces.”

Even within the same medium, the materials are approached differently by each artist, said featured ceramist Natalie Boorman.

“Even the three people who are in the exhibit who do clay, they are three completely different ways of working with clay,” Boorman said. “You take the same medium and you can do so many different things with it.”

Boorman said she experiences this in her own creative process when hand building clay pieces. She said that she often starts with an idea and ends with something completely different than what she had intended, but that this is what makes art so interesting. 

“I like surprises,” Boorman said. “I just let myself go with the flow and see what happens.” 

While FRANK is known as a fine art gallery, it is also a nonprofit organization supporting local art and art education. Knox said she hopes to foster an approachable, open atmosphere in which the community can learn about local artists and their work.

“We have so many talented artists in Orange County alone, and most of our artists represent the local art scene,” Knox said. “It’s just getting to be acquainted with the different kinds of ways that people approach their different art techniques.” 

Restch-Bogart said this exhibit in particular emphasizes the importance of local art and the creative access that galleries like FRANK provide to the public.

“It's all local artists, and I think it's important to support local creators,” Retsch-Bogart said. “So I think that's a unique quality of FRANK, because it's only North Carolina, even mostly local.”

Retsch-Bogart said art galleries provide a way for people to escape a world of standardized products and experience one-of-a-kind artistry. She said it allows the public to enjoy art in an educational and exciting way. 

“In our mass-produced society these are creations that are unique, handmade, stemming from the creativity of artists,” Retsch-Bogart said. “It's important to not have everything be mass-produced and delivered by Amazon Prime.”

Retsch-Bogart said a primary way for the public to gain an appreciation for local artists is through the story told by their art, which adds a lot to Chapel Hill's creative community.

“We're all in a big community and different voices speak different languages, visually, literally and artistically,” Retsch-Bogart said. “These are the voices of artists in our area and the visual vocabulary that expresses what they want to say.” 

Prager said that this visual narrative makes visiting art galleries so important.

“I think looking at art is always a positive thing,” Prager said. “We each take away from looking at art our own thing; some of us take stories, some of us just take feelings and emotions, some of us get lost in the art itself.”


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