Expressive Art at the Jones House



Article Published: Feb. 4, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Expressive Art at the Jones House

Dallas by Kerry Gersonde



The High Country landscape is mostly white, but expressive arts and student talent are in full color at the Jones House Community Center in downtown Boone.

Featuring the work of Appalachian State University's Orchesis Expressive Arts Honor Society and students from Two Rivers Community School, the Watauga Arts Council will host a gallery opening Friday, Feb. 5, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Mazie Jones Gallery

Artwork in the Jones House's downstairs Mazie Jones Gallery has always been expressive, but February's exhibit gives the term a literal - and spiritual - meaning.

Orchesis, Greek for "moving ensemble," offers a venue for graduate students of expressive arts, while building a community presence outside the classroom through gatherings and workshops.
Expressive arts falls under ASU's counseling program, Orchesis member and artist Pegge Laine said. "We believe that within everyone there's a creative spirit that helps us heal and grow to wholeness," Laine said.

Member and artist Meredith Casper described expressive arts as having an intermodal approach, encompassing nearly any subject medium - nature, painting, movement, music. "Its emphasis is on the process, not the product," she said.

As such, visitors can expect a variety of media, including collage, mosaic, photography, oil, screen printing and watercolor.

Laine said expressive arts follows the sentiment that humanity is part of nature, and if people reestablish that connection with the Earth, "it will help us face the challenges in the world we live in."

Member and artist Maloo Haynes explained that art has been an integral part of humanity since the beginning of time, empowering individuals to look within and achieve wholeness.

"In indigenous ancient culture, there was no word for 'artistry,'" Laine said. "In relating that to the process, it helps people let go of thinking, 'I'm not an artist,' so you can create and hold the space so people will make that connection with the spirit inside."

People then become witnesses to the process, through their own expressive arts and others', watching and connecting with their peers. "It's very much based on the belief that each person has the power to heal themselves," Laine said.

Though visitors to the Jones House will be viewing the products, handmade journals from Orchesis artists will offer a glimpse into the process. "It's not about analysis, but the process along the way," Haynes said.

Artist Kerry Gersonde has introduced the process to survivors of domestic violence. As director of client services for area nonprofit OASIS (Opposing Abuse with Service, Information and Shelter), Gersonde facilitates a support group that practices expressive arts.
"We see the healing and community bonding that comes out of the expressive arts program," Gersonde said.

As a result, victims of trauma learn about self-growth and personal identity, creating works and witnessing others' to strengthen their bond, "using what we learned to learn about ourselves," Gersonde said.

Haynes shares a similar experience, having worked with foster children at Buffalo Cove Outdoor Education Center (12 miles south of Blowing Rock), and Casper through involvement with immigrants and refugees. "They came to the country with ... grief and loss, and not speaking English very well," Casper said. "Expressive arts give them a new box of tools that helps with healing and life. It starts as art, but becomes part of life."

Laine teaches expressive arts through a series of regular workshops, be it at the ASU counseling center or area nursing homes. She'll host more at ASU's Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in March and April.

The Jones House exhibit features the work of 18 artists through some 40 pieces, including those of Casper, Gersonade, Haynes, Laine, Becca Campbell, Rachel Hawkins, Debbie Tallarico, B.T. Craig, Elena Johnson, Ann Zenkel, Ben Asma, Elizabeth di Sarno, Rachel Siegel, Stephanie Kukich, Vicki Rodriquez, Sara Evans, Jenna Crawley and Kelly McConkey.

Though Orchesis hosted a show at the Councill House in Boone last November, the Jones House offers a larger venue to present members' work to the community at large, Laine said.

For more information about Orchesis, visit http://www.orchesis.org.


Open Door Gallery

Upstairs at the Jones House, school's in session with the Open Door Gallery's exhibit of student artwork from Two Rivers Community School, a public charter school.

Art teacher Kelly Snider has selected artwork from Two Rivers' entire student body, "which is not a problem, considering they make a lot of art," she said. "I have 150 students, so we'll have 150 pieces."

The exhibit features a wide range of themes, ranging from colorful depictions of winter to Matisse-style collages.

"I really do think that every child - and every adult - has the capacity to make something visually interesting or fun," Snider said.

This could include a man being carried away by an errant pterodactyl or an ice-laden tree resting against a rooftop.

"Sometimes they can be irreverent, but it's the good kind of irreverent," Snider said. "Most of the time, I like to let them explore, and I like what happens when they interpret a lesson plan or project in a way you wouldn't have imagined, because you get to enjoy their creativity."

This leads to abundant variety, regardless of one's grade level. Snider leads combined classes of students from different grades, where oftentimes the older kids inspire the younger.
"I really think art has the capacity for everyone to enjoy, whether or not you're brilliant at it," she said.

Fortunately for Jones House visitors, the students' colorful and clever artwork promises a festive reception.

Sponsored by Cheap Joe's Art Stuff, the galleries are located at the Jones House Community Center, 604 West King St., in downtown Boone. For more information, call (828) 262-4576 or visit http://www.watauga-arts.org.

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