Home Out of the emotions of artists: ‘Fine (not) Fine’ brings macabre art to SolArt Center
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Out of the emotions of artists: ‘Fine (not) Fine’ brings macabre art to SolArt Center

“Every Feeling” by Maryalice Carroll is on display in “Fine (not) Fine” at SolArt Center. Photos by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

After trauma or loss, some individuals take up a new hobby, move or change their routine so as not to remind themselves of the trauma or loss.

In SolArt Center’s first summer exhibit of 2024, “Fine (not) Fine,” three local artists put the emotions of their trauma or loss into a work of art. They created art in reaction to being misunderstood by doctors, the human responsibility for climate change and coping with the grief of a spouse’s death.

Maryalice Carroll is a visiting professor of ceramics at JMU and lives in Harrisonburg. She began creating ceramics approximately 15 years ago when she was in high school. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sculpture work from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and then her graduate degree from the University of Arkansas.

In what she calls her “drip” pieces, Carroll is world building with abstract art.

“I think of the colors as masking the feelings, trying to bring light to it,” Carroll said. “What you feel inside is coming out.”

One piece on display is called “Every Feeling,” and was made by drilling holes carefully into the ceramic, placing small glaze sticks in each hole and placing it in a kiln for the sticks to “drip” like feelings out of the ceramic. Then “Every Feeling” was glazed.

Carroll said her drip pieces were inspired before this weekend’s exhibit by medical symptoms she has been having and doctors are unable to explain other than to diagnose her with fibromyalgia and give her medication. “So, I’m like: ‘what if I make art to kind of show what I’m feeling and expose that?'”

Jeremy Starn of Staunton has been a photographer for 15 years. Four years ago, he created a one-hour video called “A Melon For You, A Melon For Me,” which half consists of found film and the other half is film he took with a watermelon-theme for a party.

In the last year, Starn has begun creating sculpture work and will begin graduate school at JMU in August. He said he finds working in three dimensions unlike the two dimensions of photography to be “very satisfying.”

His sculpture work is a reaction to climate change and the human impact on Earth. He uses only man-made materials in his pieces, such as “Trash Ball,” which consists of tarred plastic grocery bags. Starn said he wants to further focus on the immense power humans have to make an impact on the planet.

“Trash Ball” by Jeremy Starn of Staunton is on display in “Fine (not) Fine” at SolArt Center.

Fourteen years ago, Michelle Smith of Harrisonburg became a widow when her high school sweetheart and husband, who was in the U.S. Navy, died by suicide. Smith, who is working on her graduate degree at JMU, is usually a multimedia artist, but created sculpture work for this weekend’s exhibit.

“It’s my way of dealing with post-traumatic stress,” Smith, who grew up in Fairfax, said.

In the process of making pottery and ceramics, Smith said ceramics go through a reduction atmosphere when exposed to heat much like humans go through emotionally when they experience grief. The ceramic is molecularly changed.

“It changes us,” Smith said of grief. She creates art that reflects emotions through physical objects.

SolArt Center is at 6 Byers Street, Staunton.

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Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.