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Art Blessings

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Article Published: May. 16, 2013 | Modified: May. 16, 2013
Art Blessings

'I Will Love You Forever' by Toni Carlton

You can’t spell “heart” without “art,” and both are coming to the Dickson Gallery at Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville.

Area artist Toni Carlton’s exhibit, “Spirit of the Heart,” will be on display throughout May. An artist reception, featuring light refreshments and a chance to meet the artist, is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 19. “A heartfelt invitation is given to the community to attend this reception,” Carlton said.

Native to the High Country, with a heritage of Appalachian weavers, quilters and woodworkers, Carlton began her art career as a fiber artist after graduating with an art and industrial art degree from Appalachian State University.

As a third generation weaver, Carlton said her early work was primarily fiber, including traditional weaving patterns, modern wall hangings and sculptural basketry. In the early ’90s, Carlton’s artwork shifted to a series of mixed media paintings she called “Spirit of the Heart”.

“If I can bare my soul up there on the wall, maybe you can express your feelings to someone who’s important to you,” Carlton said, adding that the series includes pieces that “are truly expressions from an open heart.”

The series began in the early ’90s with a trip to Europe with Sally Atkins and Noyes Capehart Long, where Carlton took a month-long class on the psychology of art. Through a series of drawings to explore her emotions, along with meditations, journaling and the study of Art, Carlton began creating artwork in a new way, moving away from her earlier career as a fiber artist and creating the “Spirit of the Heart” series.

“A lot of (the paintings) have to do with love and sharing love — the balance of male and female energies within us, knowing we have both, and also the male and female energy of two people coming together as one,” Carlton said.

Many of her paintings depict two people with hearts joined. The symbol, to her, means a wholeness of two people sharing love and also being connected through spirit, she said. Many of her paintings show soul mates lost or found or relationships fulfilled or released.

One painting, “The Circle of Life,” began with the passing of her Great Pyrenees, Kona, so the painting process became her therapy, she said. This work was a precursor of her mixed media paintings to come that resulted from following her heart and continuing with using art as therapy, Carlton said, as she studied expressive art therapy for several years. She still uses it today in her life, as well as in her current artwork.

Returning to weaving as a meditation in 2011, Carlton’s recent compositions express the energy of peace and oneness, as she incorporates her weavings into the canvas, representing prayers for peace. Through the layers of collage, calligraphic and Asian symbols, painting and transfer images combined with fibers, Carlton revisits her spiritual journey as an artist throughout the years. This series of work can be seen at Carlton Gallery, along with her “Mothering Peace” exhibition — a series of touch-soul drawings.

Now celebrating her 31st year of owning Carlton Gallery, Carlton acknowledged she’s been through many layers of art making with multiple media, but “Spirit of the Heart” marked the beginning of a transformational time in her life where using art for healing became a ritual.

The exhibit, Carlton said, “is meant to open the hearts of those who view the work, so it seems appropriate to exhibit this work for the month of May in the Dickson Gallery at Cannon Memorial Hospital … for the community to witness the healing aspects of creating and viewing art.”

Cannon Memorial Hospital is located at 434 Hospital Drive in Linville. For more information, including directions, visit For more information on Carlton, visit

Gallery Times

Gallery Times is a weekly news feature of The Mountain Times, featuring short news items submitted by local galleries.

For more information or to make a submission, contact editor Frank Ruggiero at ( or (828) 264-6397.

Additional Images

'I Will Love You Forever' by Toni Carlton

‘Hosannah’ by Toni Carlton

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