Fine Arts Museum unveils exciting summer lineup

The Fine Arts Museum at Western Carolina University will host a number of new exhibits this summer.

Interim Director of the Fine Arts Museum Denise Drury gave The Western Carolinian a sneak peak at a few of the exciting new displays.

Opening first was “RE+ constructed,” which opened Thursday, June 7, with a 5 p.m. reception. The exhibit runs through Friday, August 3.

“Re+ constructed” brings together the work of Heidi Field-Alvarez of Henrico, Va., Jeana Eve Klein of Boone, Carolyn Nelson of Elon and Jen Swearington of Asheville, who explore the connection between cloth, history and narrative through their work.

Technically, their works are quilts, but by using unique processes and materials like digital and screen-printing to recycled fabric and paint, the innovation of these four artists breaks the traditional ideas surrounding quilt making.

While unique in their own ways, these four artists meet on common ground through their manipulation of cloth to tell a story, be it a dream, a tall tale or simply a memory.

” “Re+ constructed” is an exhibit that I’ve been interested in for years,” said Drury. “Previous to my work here at WCU, I was director of a gallery that exhibited the work of Jeana Eve Klein. Aside from being both aesthetically and technically very interesting, her work was well received by the community of art enthusiasts. Ever since then I’ve wanted to partner again with Jeana on an exhibition about contemporary fiber art with a focus on quilted techniques.

“We were expecting about five works per artist and that’s just what we got,” continued Drury. “Heidi Field Alvarez is quite prolific, so we’ve include several more of her works in the exhibit.”

Opening June 7 and running through August 3 is “Flora & Fauna: WNC Art Educators Juried Exhibit,” an exhibit that celebrates the work of artists who teach in schools across western North Carolina. The theme of this year’s exhibit is the flora and fauna of the Southeast.

“This exhibit is a fantastic opportunity to see exactly what our local artists are up to,” said Drury.

“Lasting Impressions: Print Portfolio of Contemporary Native American Artists from the Fine Art Museum Collection” will run concurrently with the art educators exhibit, and the two exhibits will share a reception at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 19, with art educator awards announced at 5:30 p.m.

“Lasting Impressions” was acquired by the WCU Fine Art Museum in 2005 and was printed in a limited edition of 35 by master printer Jack Lemon of the Arizona State University Press.

Rounding out the summer exhibits is “Drawing on a New Deal,” a rediscovery of a largely unknown body of work by John Heliker, an accomplished draftsman. This exhibit will run through Sept. 7.

Heliker developed a personal, expressive approach to drawing during the Works Progress Administration. After World War II, he earned acclaim for his bold experimentations with biomorphic and architectonic abstraction.

For more on Heliker, Drury said, “The early cartoons and sketches on display at the Fine Art Museum are Heliker’s contribution to political activism of the 1930s. Based in Social Realism, an artist movement in the 1930s that depicts social injustices, these works are much like those Heliker produced for “The New Masses,” a prominent American Marxist publication of the same era. As Heliker progressed in his artistic career, he developed a nuanced impressionistic painting style in direct response to abstract expressionism, a prevalent artist style during his early years as an artist. One painting in this exhibit is from our own Fine Art Museum’s collection.”

This exhibit is also appealing to reach a wide range of audiences.

“Students studying history, political science and public administration would find historical and political themes in this exhibit very interesting,” said Drury.

On the exciting lineup of summer exhibits, Drury said, “I truly have to say I’ve enjoyed working on each of these exhibits. We at the Fine Arts Museum deliberately try to bring exhibits that discuss a variety of themes and showcase a variety of art forms. This summer takes the cake; in one visit to the museum you’ll see examples of drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture and fiber arts dealing with a variety of themes from social justice, gender issues, Native American identity and native plants of the southeast. I am very excited about both “RE+constructed” and the Heliker exhibit.”

In October, the Fine Arts Museum will host the “North Carolina Glass 2012” exhibit in celebration of 50 years of studio glass in America. This exhibit will feature a number of contemporary glass artists living and working in North Carolina.

“This is an exciting exhibit because it places seasoned glass artists alongside newer up-and-coming artists. Curated by Joan Falconer Byrd and myself, our goal is to present the finest examples of contemporary glass in North Carolina today,” said Drury.

For more information about any of these exhibits or receptions or the WCU Fine Art Museum, contact Denise Drury, interim director of the Fine Art Museum, at 828-227-2553 or

The WCU Fine Art Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday (and until 7 p.m. on Thursdays). Admission and parking are free. Learn more online at