Have you ever had the opportunity to wander around in an artist’s studio?
It’s like being inside their brain. I’ve long been fascinated with the bits and pieces that inspire artists and would love to have private time to look into the studios of some of the famous ones.
Like Picasso, for instance. He had various studios over the years, and in pictures it’s wonderful to see the high ceilings and historic architectural rooms flooded with light, his paintings leaning against walls and his pottery stacked around the room.
The viewer wants to poke around and see what is there. Are there tribal sculptures for inspiration? A bullfighter’s cape? Both figure in his work, but are they things that Picasso would surround himself with?
So that’s why the upcoming exhibit at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston is intriguing.
“Joseph Burwell: School of the Viking Spaniard Revisited,” and “Herb Parker: Studio Practice” opens Aug. 23.
Parker, a professor at the college and one of South Carolina’s most prominent site-specific artists, will re-create his studio alongside that of Burwell, an artist with a more engineering design bent.
Parker has had pieces in more than 50 exhibits around the world. His large work is based on landscape, working in sod, earth and steel. Think grass temples and houses made of sod.
His South Carolina site works include those at the State Museum in Columbia, the Waterfront Park in Charleston, Chandler Creek Elementary School in Greer and the S.C. Botanical Garden in Clemson.
But he also creates smaller works out of found objects that actually fit inside the institute. It will be no surprise that the clutter and objects he surrounds himself with are items that he might eventually use for inspiration. A painted doll’s head on a stick. Daffy Duck, a clock and an old school bell. Metal objects that lose their original meaning when juxtaposed with a skull or a mannequin.
To walk around in his mind is to see what he chooses out of the universe to amuse himself, and gives the viewer a look into his mental toy box.
With Burwell, the studio will be sparse. Metal shelves with precise objects, T-squares and flat compasses, graph paper. Sketches are hung with precision and space around them.
There will be the impression is of an artistic mind with a mathematical bent, where rules and order are precisely followed or twisted methodically.
This is an artist who started out studying architecture at the Savannah College of Art and Design, but changed his major to studio arts and received his bachelor’s degree at the College of Charleston in 1993.
Part of this exhibit includes talks with both artists so they can answer the eternal question, “What were you thinking when you ...?”
Burwell will give his talk at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, in Room 309, Simons Center for the Arts. The opening reception will be later that evening, from 6:30-8 p.m.
On Aug. 24, there will be a gallery walk-through at 2 p.m. with Burwell and Parker.
And, Parker’s talk will be 6 p.m. Sept. 26 in Room 309, Simons Center for the Arts.
It’s a great way to mark your calendar for the start of the fall arts events.
Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557.
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