The City of North Charleston’s Cultural Arts Department is pleased to announce that paintings by Alvin Staley of Orangeburg, SC, as well as works in pyrography by North Charleston, SC, artist, DeWayne Sykes, will be on exhibit at the North Charleston City Gallery from June 2-30, 2014. The artists will host a free public reception at the gallery from 5:00-7:00pm on Thursday, June 5.
Alvin Staley will present a collection of work spanning over 30 years in his exhibit Icons and Images: Christian Metaphors. The featured paintings focus on the artist’s Christian beliefs, concerns, doctrines, and fascination with the souls of people. A number of the paintings contain personalized icons that signify Staley’s visual concept of Deity. His recurring use of floating monoliths, or icons, was originally inspired by a painting titled La Chateau des Pyrenees by the Belgian Surrealist Rene Magritte. “In the early 1980s, I had the privilege of viewing this painting during a visit to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC,” Staley explains. “The painting impacted me to the point that I had to explore the utilization of the floating monolith in my own artwork to express Deity.” From that point to the present, Staley’s monolith has evolved from a simple, flat oblong shape to its present form, with the one constant factor being its sense of power and presence. In addition to these symbolic paintings, the artist will also display several figurative works that are filled with visual metaphors of the Christian faith. “Scriptural references in the titles provide guidance to the Biblical content being explored within the artworks,” he says. “The work is intended to both enlighten and challenge the viewer.”
A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Alvin Staley has spent the majority of his life living in South Carolina and received the greater part of his artistic training in the museums, schools, and galleries in the Washington, DC, area. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education from Claflin University in 1976 and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from The American University in Washington, DC, in 1981. During his first year at American University, he was selected to participate in the prestigious David Lloyd Kreeger Award Exhibit. Since 1976, Alvin has been an active artist and educator. He has taught in the public schools of Greenville, Florence, Orangeburg, and Colleton County. He has also worked in the art programs of Morris College, Voorhees College, and South Carolina State University. Previously, he worked as an artist-in-residence for Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School and adjunct professor at Claflin University. Alvin is the former Art Department Chairman and Director of the Arthur Rose Museum at Claflin University. He has exhibited his work nationally, is represented in numerous collections throughout the country, and has received many awards, including the South Carolina State Fair Fine Art Spirit Achievement Award in 2011.
Carolina Soul – Works in Pyrography by DeWayne Sykes
In Carolina Soul, local artist DeWayne Sykes will display two series of works shaped by his Lowcountry heritage, religious inspiration, and cherished childhood stories. His featured images of Gullah-Geechee people, places, and traditions are created through a technique called Pyrography, which involves burning images into wood using an electrical tool or a pit fire. While the Gullah Inheritance series and The Gullah Define series are two distinct bodies of work, with the latter incorporating the Gullah language and half-hidden symbolism, they influence one another greatly and hold significant meaning to the artist’s life and reverence for the Gullah-Geechee culture. “In these series I am returning to my roots and childhood memories of being with my grandparents,” Sykes explains. “They would carry my siblings and me around to visit family in Kingstree, Georgetown, and Hollywood, SC, and we would go out into the fields and pick rice, peas, corn, watermelon, etc. In my work the open horizon, the joining of sky and marshy lands, is my view of the Lowcountry lands that I grew up in.”
DeWayne Sykes is a self-taught artist born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. He was recognized at an early age for his creative drive and was inspired and encouraged by family members to continue his art practice throughout his childhood and into adulthood. His works, which are often documentary in nature, are created in a variety of styles and mediums and have been described as “effectual and powerful,” incorporating textures that create a unique energy. DeWayne has exhibited his work in a number of solo and group exhibitions locally, including the MOJA Arts Festival and the Art Institute of Charleston.
The North Charleston City Gallery is situated in the common areas of the Charleston Area Convention Center, located at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Parking and admission are free during regular Convention Center operating hours, 9:00am – 5:00pm daily. The gallery is staffed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday only. Inquiries regarding the artists or purchase information may be directed to the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843)740-5854. For information on additional exhibits, programs, and events, visit the Arts & Culture section of the City’s website.