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'You Must Know Life to See Decay' at Looking Glass

Article Published: Jan. 13, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'You Must Know Life to See Decay' at Looking Glass

Student Calah Fortune's artwork is on display at ASU's Looking Glass Gallery through Feb. 1.

Looking Glass Gallery presents the exhibit, "You Must Know Life to See Decay," by student Calah Fortune through Feb. 1 in Plemmons Student Union at Appalachian State University.

A closing reception will be held on Friday, Jan. 28, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the gallery. The event is free and open to the public.

The gallery is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. The exhibition is curated by Dianna Loughlin, curator for the Looking Glass Gallery. For more information, visit

Fortune's paintings are more than just acrylic on canvas. Unlike traditional methods, Fortune has developed a process that allows her to quickly build layers of rust, creating a uniquely tactile experience on the surface of each piece.

Her technique is perfected through a precise combination of rusted metal and acidic materials such as instant coffee, hydrochloric acid, Elmer's Glue, apple cider vinegar and ammonia.

The materials deteriorate, resulting in a paradox of bright and lively hues of chocolate brown, burgundy, crimson and orange that form and build layers inches off the canvas. This process gives Fortune's paintings new life, as well as decay, as they appear to travel forward in time.

About the artist

Calah Fortune is a mixed media artist from West Chicago, Ill. She focuses on abstract expressionist paintings. Fortune is from a creative family and said she is constantly inspired by her four sisters.

Her other artistic influences include Pablo Neruda, Helen Frankenthaler, Stefan Sagmeister and Bruce Mau. Under the encouragement of her high school art teacher Jack Burgess, Fortune has pursued a collegiate fine art education.

Fortune has experimented with several different media while attending Appalachian, including drawing, sketch booking and glassblowing. She began the rust painting process in 2009. Department of Art faculty members Mark Nystrom, Jason Watson and Gary Nemcosky motivated her to redefine the boundaries of fine art.

Vicky Grube, an assistant professor of art education, influenced Fortune's passion for the power of the art making process in children's lives.

Fortune is currently an instructor at the ArtMart Academy in Boone. She will be student teaching in Dublin, Ireland, beginning in March. She will graduate from Appalachian with a bachelor's degree in art education and a concentration in graphic design in May.

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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