March 26, 2010

MINDS WIDE OPEN: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts.

In the spring of 2010, the arts community in Virginia will present a celebration of the arts including performances, exhibitions, readings, and films and on the theme of women in the arts collectively called MINDS WIDE OPEN: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts. Conceived by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the commonwealth’s large museums, arts organizations statewide were invited to participate.

The Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History will exhibit its MINDS WIDE OPEN March 26 through May 2, 2010. The Museum decided to schedule female artists who focus on women in their art as subjects, consumers, and/or as audiences on a worldwide, national and local basis. Virginia Beach artist Rieneke Leenders’ collection of watercolor portraits of women whom she has met throughout her travels will share gallery space with the ceramic sculptures based on sea shell forms by Emory and Henry assistant professor of art ChweeKim Koek. Anna Sheffield is a nationally-known jeweler and textile designer who maintains a studio in New York City (SoHo). For the local component, the Museum invited printmaker Linda Gourley, painter and batik artist Jeanne Lavinder and fused glass artist Nancy Gosney to exhibit artwork that they feel speaks to women as an audience.

Sharing space in the Jennings Gallery are Rieneke Leenders and ChweeKim Koek. The series of oversized, realistic watercolors portraits, Women of the World, explores the differences and similarities in status of women in a variety of cultures around the world. Leenders traveled the world in a camper with her husband, allowing her to get to know the subjects in her portraits on an intimate basis. The women were asked to give their interpretation of their status as women in their culture. Universal issues such as workload, education, health, abuse, and finances were addressed. In her exhibit, the combination of the statements and the portrait of each woman give a sense of direct communication. Skin Deep: I am All of You, Leenders’ self-portrait, is not to be missed.

ChweeKim Koek’s low-fired ceramic sculptures are inspired by the beauty of the sea shell. She hand-builds her sculptures into abstract organic forms having no straight lines or edges; their undulating lines lead the viewer’s eyes throughout the pieces, evoking the emotions of quietness and peacefulness. Often, several of these pieces are grouped together similar to an installation. Koek states “although my personal concerns with the art that I create are mostly formal in nature, some pieces are symbolic of a personal protective shell, while others are like a jigsaw puzzle to piece my life together.”

Born in Singapore, Koek holds an undergraduate diploma from Baharuddin Vocational Institute in Singapore, and a BFA from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She received a MFA in Ceramics from Syracuse University and is an assistant professor of art at Emory and Henry College in Virginia. Reineke Leenders is a native of the Netherlands and now maintains a studio at the d’Art Center in Norfolk. She has studied at numerous art and crafts schools and workshops in the Netherlands, Canada and the United States.

Both artists have won numerous awards and have exhibited widely in Virginia and, in ChweeKim Koek’s case, throughout the United States and in Singapore.

From darts and daggers on necklaces to ultra-polished gemstones inverted in a ring, Anna Sheffield minimizes, transforms and translates her handcrafted jewelry into petite asymmetries and incongruities denoting the notion of keepsakes. Somewhat of a phenomenon, Anna Sheffield’s jewelry has graced the bodies of female celebrities such as Nichole Kidman and Cameron Diaz and Anna has collaborated with renowned designers Marc Jacobs and Phillip Lim through both her Bing Bang and 88 fine jewelry lines. She was nominated by the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) for the 2007 Swarovski Accessories Award. She sells her lines at high-end department stores such Barneys New York, Le Bon Marche, Joyce Hong Kong and others. Although she hails from New Mexico, Sheffield has ties to Danville through her mother Susan Stillwell and grandmother Louise Farmer and attended George Washington High School. Her exhibit at the Museum will include early graphic work as a student at GWHS and from her studies at San Francisco Art Institute, sculpture, her marionette series, as well as her current lines of jewelry and accessories.

Rounding out MINDS WIDE OPEN: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts will be a book signing by Joan Moore whose recently published book, Echoes of the Past, will be available on the bookshelves at the Danville Museum’s Pantry. The book signing will be Sunday, March 28 at 2:00 PM at the Museum.

The book is an easy read of 31 short stories of some of the trials Joan Moore reported when she served as the Circuit Court Reporter in Lawrence County in Indiana for Divorce, Probate, Civil and Criminal Courts. Included are short human interest stories of various day to day living experiences as well that will resound with every woman, anywhere.

Moore served as a Legal Assistant to her attorney husband following her retirement from Circuit Court until his death at which time she moved to Dove Canyon, where she presently resides. She is the mother of Jeff Moore, (wife Cyndee Perdue Moore), and grandmother of Grant Alexander and Allison Moore, who reside in Danville, VA.

Joan Moore holds membership in The National Federation of Press Women as well as the Virginia Press Women.

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