News Column

'Selfie' art exhibit presented on canvas

June 25, 2014

By Donna B. Stinnett, The Gleaner, Henderson, Ky.

June 25--It's a modern-day title for an exhibit showcasing an art genre that most likely dates to prehistoric times.

"Me, Myselfie & I," a juried for awards exhibit of self-portraits created with oil, colored pencils, acrylic, pastel and watercolor, celebrates its opening with a reception on Thursday evening at Henderson County Public Library.

The reception starts at 6 p.m. in the Rotunda Gallery. The exhibit is presented by Ohio Valley Art League.

The artists featured in this exhibit that will remain at the library through Aug. 21 chose varied approaches to capturing a "selfie" on canvas.

"For a small show in number of entries there is remarkable diversity," said Juror Amy DeLap, artist and retired art professor.

DeLap's own work "Self Portrait with My Dad" is included in the exhibit as is a work by the exhibit honorary chair Chris Thomas of Henderson.

Some artists chose to take a very realistic or formal look at themselves, while others chose a more whimsical view, bordering on caricature to perhaps capture more of a personality snapshot rather than a rendering of appearance.

Some pictured themselves very up close and personal, and others chose to be placed in a moment -- with family members or pets, or even outdoors enjoying a hobby.

"Usually the subject looked directly at the viewer, other times the gaze turned inward, or in another direction," DeLap said. "It was interesting to consider what message such decisions implied."

Historically, portraits were created for the rich and powerful and were considered pretty serious in tone.

As Charles Dickens once noted: "There are only two styles of portrait painting: The serious and the smirk."

Over time, both the audience and the intent of portraits have evolved, as is noted by Henderson artist Landis Thompson about her view of her "selfie."

"I see myself as happy," she said. "I have received countless blessings in my life, and it would probably be a sin to be anything but happy."

In keeping with the notion that most people really don't like photos of themselves, OVAL curator Jule McClellan said that it can be difficult for an artist to paint himself or herself.

But one of her own most successful portraits started out as a self-portrait that she hated and was about to throw away.

It helped, she said, to take the focus off herself and put it on the grandson also depicted in the work.

An artist featured in the exhibit said a key component of her recent work helped keep her focused.

"Color has been the most important aspect of painting for me in recent years, especially in oils," said Elizabeth Davis, creator of "But Elizabeth, You Think Purple Fixes Everything." "A friend recently made the comment, which became my title, acknowledging my love of color and purple in particular. A self portrait proved daunting but strong colors provided a path I could follow."

Perhaps because painting self-portraits do take artists a bit out of their comfort zone -- from observer of the world around them to inspector of self -- some artists were inspired to work with different tools for this assignment.

"Sometimes we have to look deeper inside ourselves to find out what we can do," said Beth Schmitt of Fort Branch. "I have never tried a portrait and using pencils are a relatively new medium for me also."

Artists and their works included in the exhibit are:

From Henderson: Elizabeth Davis, "But Elizabeth, You Think Purple Fixes Everything;" Iris Gentry, "A Peaceful Moment With Willie;" Susie Rideout, "The Way I See Myself; " Dianne Wham, "Mother of The Bride" and Landis Thompson, "My Self Study."

Evansville: Janice Greene, "Me Myself and Sophie;" Lanette Stanley, "My Mother-Myself" and Kelly Gilbert, "1964."

Clay: Sandy Barry, "Izzy and I."

Owensboro: Todd Derr, "Self Portrait."

Fort Branch: Beth Schmitt, "Beneath The Brim" and Sue Freudenberg, "Maybe Me."


(c)2014 The Gleaner (Henderson, Ky.)

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Source: Gleaner, The (Henderson, KY)

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