Two Durham artists are setting out to fuse the worlds of architecture and art with their show, DWELL, on display at Pleiades Gallery through March 30.
Jim Adams, a metal sculptor and architectural draftsman, and Sandra Elliott, a painter and interior designer, paired up as part of the gallery’s year-long series, designed to give the 10 artists at the gallery the space and time to develop a body of work to present, gallery member Kim Wheaton said.
The group split into five pairs, most of which include a 2-D artist and a 3-D artist. Wheaton said there is a new show on display every six weeks.
Adams’s and Elliott’s display features sculptures, furniture, paintings and more, many of which have dual purposes: a sculpture that is also a light, or a painting that was turned into a rug. Wheaton said all of the art focuses on dwellings and the materials within them.
“Jim has these beautiful sculptures but also door pulls, strike plates, candle holders,” she said. “Normally we don’t have things that are functional.”
Elliott had a painting she made turned into fabric, and upholstered mid-century chairs with it. She also made a rug out of oil cloths — a traditional way of making rugs when the English first came to America, she said.
In doing so, she blended her two careers — interior design and visual art — in a new way.
“I’ve always thought that the reason I love to paint is I love to combine textures and forms, but I’ve never explored it this way as an artist,” Elliott said.
Elliott said one of the most fun pieces to work on was a painting that is almost 10-feet-by-7-feet.
The two artists decided to work together almost a year ago, when the group set the upcoming year’s shows. Elliott said it took them a few months to come up with a concept, but once they decided on DWELL, they knew it was exactly what they wanted to do.
“We found the name of the show, DWELL, and went into our separate studios and sort of came out with this show that we’re both very proud of,” she said.
The difficult part was having to edit their work. On installation day at the gallery, not everything fit, so the two had to narrow it down to their best pieces, Elliott said.
“We could have kept creating and creating so we kind of had to put the brakes on,” she said.
Elliot said The artists’s shared experience with furniture — he makes it, she designs it — is the common thread that weaves their pieces together.
“It was a nice synchronicity that they had in common,” Wheaton said.
The relationship between art and craftsmanship is something the two artists are hoping to explore and shed light on through this show. Elliott said they would like to open up a discussion about what design, art, craft and architecture are, and how they relate.
There is an age old debate between fine craftsmanship and artistry, Elliott said, and often artists try to separate themselves from craftsmanship — but Adams and Elliott see the line as blurred.
“I think real true craftsmanship is absolutely art, and you have to have a wonderful craft to create great art,” she said.
“We hope it opens up the dialogue of the labels we put on things.”
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