published Sunday, April 24th, 2011

‘Insight’ at River Gallery

Featured artists during May examine personal space and relationships

“Insight,” opening May 1 at River Gallery, will give visitors an opportunity to see how four distinctly different artists view personal space and relationships.

Heather Allen-Swarttouw began her art career by working with clay and three-dimensional forms. Then she moved into creating architectural textiles with multiple layers of inks, dyes and other surface-design techniques. The North Carolina artist said that about eight years ago, she “returned to her roots in clay” and began combining her textiles with clay and other mediums.

The themes of her work revolve around change and her belief that life is a journey.

Melisa Cadell, also from North Carolina, uses clay to depict the human form as an expression of the spiritual being that dwells within it. However, the people represented have been changed through life experiences — both good and bad.

“What is reflected is not what society typically deems beautiful,” she says in her artist’s statement. “Their beauty is one of dignity, courage and strength.”

Vicki Essig grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado but moved to Appalachia to pursue the craft tradition of hand weaving.

Fascinated with light and translucency and the contrast between fragile and strong, she creates work from fine hand-woven fibers and found objects.

“With natural materials, I show the small and delicate as the powerful and significant,” she explained.

Vermont artist Karen Swyler constructs porcelain vessels that explore how essential personal relationships and interactions are.

“This body of work investigates subtleties in communication and the importance of the lasting effects individuals can have on each other,” Swyler says in her artist’s statement.

She describes her work in the show as “understated,” which requires the viewer to spend time with and pay close attention to each piece.

“Insight” will be on display through May 31. A reception will be held May 6 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and Cadell will be present to discuss her work.

River Gallery, corner of Bluff View and High streets, is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday and by appointment. Call 265-5033.

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