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Whispers of Life’s Journey

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Article Published: Jun. 21, 2012 | Modified: Jun. 25, 2012
Whispers of Life’s Journey

‘Spirit of the Breath’ by Toni Carlton

A “Whispers of Life’s Journey” exhibit by Carlton Gallery owner and curator Toni Carlton is filled with mixed media paintings rendered with a central theme of peace and art blessings.

An artist’s reception is planned for Saturday, June 23, from 2 to 5 p.m., affording visitors an opportunity to meet Carlton and discuss her work and visit her open studio upstairs. This exhibition opens the season for Avery Tour de Art held on the fourth Saturday of every month from June through November.

Carlton’s paintings combined with mixed media collage incorporate images from her personal life experiences – a love of dance, written messages, calligraphy and photographic images from her travels, including stops in Jamaica, Europe, Peru, Mexico, Belize, Hawaii and, most recently, India.

She is inspired by different cultures, expressions of movement, heart connections and spiritual connotations. Calligraphy in various languages adds a three-dimensional element, as she returns to the texture once used as a fiber artist. Beginning with writing in graphite and incorporating dyed and textured papers, hand-woven fibers and silhouettes, along with many layers of paint, she creates her work to remind one to embrace the connection to all relations.

Many of the mixed media collages in Carlton’s “Whispers of Life’s Journey” exhibit reflect her interpretation of the balance of peace within the chaos from her recent trip to India. “As one travels through many walks of life witnessing both the pain and the beauty, the balance deepens the awareness of our heart journeys and opens us more to the connection of all, reflecting our own transformation,” she said.

Some of the artwork also incorporates recent weavings with textured cotton and rayon threads woven with patterns from her fiber background to honor her Appalachian heritage. Carlton’s early years using weaving as an art form have come full circle to connect to her heritage, with each thread woven as a prayer to become an integral part of a larger mixed media art piece.

In one of her most recent paintings, “Prayers of Many Colors,” which began with bold, bright colors of the chakras, the brilliancy was softened by many layers of translucent paints, along with adding hand-woven fibers representing peace and replicating the colors of India to balance the dreariness and beauty of the country.

A few other new works in this exhibition have transfer images of close-ups of the intricate details in the architecture of the Taj Mahal, as well Sanskrit words in calligraphy of blessings of peace, creativity and spirituality.

A graduate of Appalachian State University, Carlton earned degrees in industrial arts, concentrating in woodworking, crafts and architectural drafting and Art Marketing with a minor in business. From fibers, sculpture and photography to drawing and painting, she still enjoys using multimedia in her artwork today to express the many layers in her “Whispers of Life’s Journey” exhibition.

Her artist’s statement is, “I want my art to connect people to show we are all one. My hope is my original creations open hearts and touch souls to inspire and lift spirits. I will continue making art that is healing and helpful to develop an understanding of our interconnectedness.”

“Whispers of Life’s Journey” runs through July 22 at Carlton Gallery, with a reception on Saturday, June 23, from 2 to 5 p.m. The gallery’s Spring Group Exhibition continues through June 30, and the “We Celebrate Art” Summer Exhibition and 30th Anniversary Fete begin on July 7.

The gallery is located 10 miles south of Boone and seven miles north of Linville on N.C. 105 in the Grandfather Mountain community. For more information on artists, exhibitions or workshops, call (828) 963-4288 or 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.

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