Masks & Mirrors

IMG_20150315_140226What happens when you bring together a yearning at RCWMS to showcase someone’s art, a gorgeous venue, and the idea that a day should be designated to celebrating women in the arts? “Masks & Mirrors,” that’s what. “Masks & Mirrors: Works By Mary Jane Rivers & Friends,” which opened on March 15 at Cassilhaus, a home and gallery between Durham and Chapel Hill, NC, is sponsored by RCWMS and Cassilhaus.

Mary Jane’s abstract forms reflect a vibrant conversation between the conscious and unconscious. Her paintings portray the dialogue between the masks we present to the world and the vulnerabilities that peek out from behind those masks. Her works are mirrors of an interior landscape. This exhibition features a selection of her work, along with paintings by Marcy Litle and wildlife sculptures by environmental artist, Bryant Holsenbeck.

IMG_20150315_174210During the planning stages, and inspired by the model of SWAN (Support Women Artists Now), scheduled each year in March, Mary Jane determined that this celebration of her work should also showcase the work of local artists in other media. To include more friends, as it were. This decision blossomed into a series of associated events, including a rousing concert featuring Randa McNamara on March 19, an upcoming evening of readings by local writers, and a participatory jazz improvisation during the show’s closing.

The opening on April 15 and performance on the 19 brought out lively and enthusiastic crowds. You can find photographs from the exhibition and some of the events on the RCWMS Facebook page.

The exhibition runs through April 19, with gallery open hours on afternoons of March 19, 26, April 2, 8, and 16. (Please contact masks.mirrors@gmail.com if you need directions.) Mary Jane Rivers and Marcy Litle will be present during gallery hours, happy to chat or to leave visitors alone to contemplate the artwork.

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Art Weekends at the Beach

IMG_4911During the last week of February, a large beach house on Emerald Isle—with a magnificent view of the sound in one direction and a one-block walk to the beach in the other—was filled with pencils, pastels, acrylics, watercolors, charcoal, pens, and blank canvases. By the beginning of March, a revolving cast of women had explored, rediscovered, and deepened artistic expression and soulful connections. Inspired by the sometimes icy views, the women filled sketchbooks and canvases under the warm and wise guidance of veteran artist and teacher Sue Sneddon.

IMG_4929Some participants were returning to the beach for the advanced “Making Your Art” workshop, and some ventured out the following weekend for their first RCWMS event, “Finding Your Medium.” After the workshop, one of the first-timers, Kate, shared her joy in re-connecting with an important part of herself:

What a gift! “Finding Your Medium” with Sue Sneddon was magical for me and helped me to recover my artist soul. I have been yearning to learn how to paint, but I have been carrying within me the discouraging reactions of several art instructors who had convinced me that I was no good at it. Several weeks ago I stumbled onto the RCWMS website and discovered “Finding Your Medium.” What drew me was the first line of the course description, “I can’t draw a straight line.”

I am an introvert and have always felt intimidated making art in front of other people so it was a HUGE leap of faith to sign up to spend an entire weekend with a group of strangers at a beach house making art together! I had to talk myself into going several times before the weekend started. I told myself I was going to give up painting if I came home feeling discouraged.

What happened was the opposite! What I experienced was a group of kind women who were supportive and non-critical, and in this environment I discovered that art is fun, joyful, and a gift that all of us possess, including me. I gradually began to relax, and as I got lost in the various art mediums, I discovered that my young artist inside has lots to say and express. I am very excited to continue painting and to allow my artist soul to flourish.

Sue Sneddon is so much more than an extremely gifted and accomplished artist. It is who Sue is as a person–her warmth, her “realness,” her gentle encouraging spirit, and her unique ability to draw out the “vulnerable child artist” in each of us–that makes her a really great teacher.

At RCWMS, we so are grateful to work with talented artists and teachers like Sue Sneddon, and open-hearted women who are willing to risk, explore, and grow. We hope you will join us for a workshop or program soon!

Rebecca Welper has an MFA in Playwriting and has taught writing workshops at RCWMS

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