Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


December 7, 2012

Legends the stuff of this exhibit

ASHLAND — A series of art displays created by a group of artist friends continues at the Thoroughbred Gallery in Ashland.

This installment, titled “Breath of Legends,” includes more than 40 pieces of art in the form of photography, paintings, costumes and jewelry created by four area artists: seamstremss Renee Schmutz-Sowards; painter and jewelry designer Jessica Brooks; and photographers Courtney Thompson and Erica Cleary.

For the first exhibit, conceived by Brooks, the women created art to celebrate the “Day of the Dead,” paying homage to the Mexican holiday that honors ancestors.

In the next exhibit, the theme was “The Five Elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Spirit,” which included the human and artistic spirit among the components of live.

This show, which took three to six months to prepare, examines ancient myths and legends worldwide.

Schmutz-Sowards said she wanted to tackle this theme from the beginning of their collaboration.

“I always loved fairy tales, myths and legends, especially the Russian ones,” she said. “They’re darker. They border the Black Forest with German and their fairy tales are gut-level lessons that teach about the world.”

Schmutz-Sowards said the artists chose some of the more obscure legends to explore.

For instance, one of the five vignettes the artists created is devoted to Kumiho, which literally means nine-tailed fox but is prominent in Korean folklore as a shapeshifter that often appears to men as a beautiful woman who tempts men into marriage and ultimately eats their liver.

The kumiho appears in many Asian cultures with a slightly different lore.

While three of the artist had worked together on other projects, this was the first time Thompson had photographed their work.

She said Brooks had seen her work at the Pendleton Art Center and asked if she’d be interested in working with them and Thompson agreed.

Seven of the artists’ friends were recruited to model the clothing and jewelry, portraying the essence of the characters they represented.

It took two photography sessions lasting three or more hours to achieve the finished product. Shoots were in the upstairs of the Pendleton and at the Huntington Museum of Art.

The exhibit will be on view tonight during the First Friday art walk and will continue through the end of December. Pieces are for sale.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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