It may be pushing 100 degrees on the streets of Charleston, but SCOOP Studios is keeping it icy inside with their new group show Antarctic: Revisited. The exhibit, which celebrates the gallery's second anniversary, was inspired by co-owner Saramel Evans' journey to the frosty continent.
Evans flew to the southern tip of South America and then boarded a small boat that took her through the notoriously dangerous Drake Passage and finally into the iceberg-studded waters of the Antarctic. "We started hitting islands and seeing all the different wildlife — losing color and getting colder and quieter and more alone," Evans remembers. She took the trip with her brother and mom, who were both interested in the area's icebergs. Much larger than those on the other side of the globe, the Antarctic icebergs are colossal chips of ice that melt silently and imperceptibly. The trio spent most of their time on the boat, but sometimes ventured to the islands to immerse themselves in the wildlife's habitat. "You camp out over the ice with the penguins, but there's four hours of no sunlight, so it's not that much of a camp-out," Evans said.
Co-owner Colleen Deihl actually came up with the idea to use Evans' experiences as the inspiration for a show. The studio's 17 artists were asked to create one piece based on photographs and other pieces of Evans' journey.
At first, the group was taken aback by the request, as the gallery generally puts on one solo show every month. But a group show turned out to be something everyone wanted to do. "We've never really put parameters on anything for them," Deihl says. "Everybody has been very receptive about it." Although each artist was asked to create one small-to-medium-sized piece, their artistic license seems to have gotten the better of them. One is about 60 inches high, while another artist painted three different penguin interpretations. "We're going to be just as surprised as everyone else," says Deihl.
But it's those surprises and the evolution of the art that make it so exciting. "If we're drawn to it and it excites us, then we can share that with other people," Deihl says. With Antarctica: Revisited, it's the blue, gray, and white shades of the landscape that excite them the most.
Kenton James says he enjoyed the challenge. "It actually even forced me to stretch out of my compositional comfort zone, to incorporate landscape elements which I have rarely done, but I have since become extremely excited about the new direction my work is taking on," he says. "Seriously, I'm fairly confident in saying that I would have never painted anything Antarctic-related if not for this."
A collage by Karin Olah uses pieces of fabric and paint in shades of blue to create a stunning interpretation of the untamed waters of the region. Those winter colors understandably show up in many of the pieces in the show.
Christopher Murphy was inspired by more than just photos. "Saramel provided some materials for me to use in the painting. It was really interesting for me to use objects in my work that have significance to one individual," he says. "The painting becomes a portrait or memoir of sorts for that person."
And, says Evans, "Karen Ann Myers got little penguin statues for her inspiration. They were her models."
The second anniversary show is a challenge and something a little bit different not only for SCOOP, but for any gallery. "It's not every day that you see an art show about Antarctica ... in Charleston ... in summer," James says. " I think it will produce an interesting juxtaposition, and with the radically different styles of the contributing artists I'm extremely curious to see the various interpretations of the theme."