Artist speech given during the group invitation, Master Artists Exhibition, at the Gadsden Arts Center in Quincy, Florida, 2014:
“I have been asked to speak about what makes a certain work special. I had a hard time coming up with the answer. We know it when we see it, right? Valuing one piece over another is an intuitive process; often a piece of my own that I find the most successful is not Read More...
I chose to exhibit Shadowdancer: Memorabilia partly due to the opinion of others whom I respect but also based upon my own sense of accomplishment.
I completed this work in 2001 which made it an early mid career piece for me. During the two years it was part of the Florida Craftsmen’s 50th anniversary exhibition it traveled more than I did, visiting many museums and art centers, including this great one.
This piece has received many awards; I am proud of the one it received while exhibiting in the 13th Annual Art in Gadsden at this Center. That award is dear to my heart. It has been used many times as an example of my best art. The image of this work has helped gain entrance into many respected exhibitions around the country.
I have always kept a permanent collection. When possible, I will not sell a pivotal piece, which has come to mean one that signifies a turning point in my art. Since its creation, this piece has always been part of that collection and consequently has established an extensive provenance from exhibiting so often.
This piece is a special one to me in a personal as well as a pivotal way:
I created it to celebrate the life of my friend, artist Bill Thursby. Many of you here will remember this most dynamic artist. Bill was a Quincy native who contributed so much to help form this art community.
Bill was also one of the most prolific and creative artists I have ever met. We shared a wonderful connection; it was the kind of artist friendship which inspires us to always create our best works. To honor our camaraderie, I created this piece after his death.
The headdress you see in this piece is representative of Bill’s love for making masks from feathers many of which he collected from the peacocks, guineas and chickens my husband, David, and I raised on our little Quincy farm. The work is full of other symbolism. Each twist in the skirt stands for one of our many brainstorms and there were so many.
I find it impossible to separate my life from my art. Art is a very personal thing; as artists, our passion often shows in a piece–we can find it in our lines, shapes, colors; we convey the ideas we feel strongly about. Passion always seems to find its way into what I consider my best art.
This piece also proved to be a pivotal one because it ushered in a time of more exploration. With this work I began what I call tattooing my figurative pieces. I started using intricate design elements to embellish the figures to help tell the story, carry out the color, bring balance and interest to my work.
My work became increasingly more dimensional yet I am still attached to the flat white watercolor paper from which everything else springs.
When I was working on Memorabilia, I was just beginning to paint on both sides of the paper which greatly expanded the possibilities. Even something so simple as twisting the paper became a foundation for ongoing creativity.
And so, it builds from these lightbulb moments. And even though there have been layers upon layers of ideas beyond this piece, I still use this simple twisting technique which I came on as I was thinking of my old friend, Bill.
I continue to grow as an artist but have lived long enough to appreciate my past. This piece is one I am now proud to offer as one of my strongest works”. ~ Beth Appleton