In her abstract works on paper, Susan Brenner piles on inspiration and techniques, creating instability and then wrestling with it. While the result is sheer beauty, there also is evidence of the struggle it took to bring these mixed media pieces to completion, which adds to their depth and richness.
For her “Natural Histories” series, Brenner began with black-and-white digital line drawings. She then applied paint with a mixture of control and abandon, using old-fashioned dip pens, a variety of brushes, inexpensive paint rollers and squeeze bottles. Most of the digital drawing is buried under the paint, but some of it peeks through.
The finished works give the viewer plenty to look at and interpret. They teem with marks and imagery that could be maps, smoke, scribbles, body parts, tectonic plates, cascading water and lurking figures.
Especially engaging are the two largest pieces. Proportioned like movie screens and filled with visual elements that are sometimes jittery, sometimes undulating, these works pulsate with movement and energy.
Ross galleries, Central Piedmont Community College; blogs.cpcc.edu/cpccartgalleries; 704-330-6211; through Oct 1.
Telling the story of a space-traveling African-American teenager and a child, this exhibition depicts the profound yearning to be left in peace, with one’s thoughts and body unviolated, to be free from labels and stereotypes.
This small, poignant show consists of digital mixed media work and some mock consumer products. Artists Marcus Kiser and Jason Woodberry plan to flesh out the story and turn it into a graphic novel.
While there is much sadness here, there is also hope and humor.
The show has several standouts. If Woodberry’s “Dark Matter,” a touching image of a child blowing cosmic bubbles, looks familiar, that’s probably because you’ve seen it on an ArtPop billboard. Kiser’s designs for NASA-style patches, instead of recognizing happy achievements, acknowledge obstacles such as prejudice, propaganda and miseducation; his funny, horrifying “KKK Cereal” is a cereal box brimming with cheery instructions on how to be demeaned and degraded.
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture; ganttcenter.org; 704-547-3700; through Sept 27.
Skyline Artist-in-Residence Program
Uptown’s old Goodyear Service Center will be torn down later this year to make way for Tryon Place, but right now it’s occupied by artists. The Skyline Artist-in-Residence Program is giving them studio space, a stipend and a one-night showcase.
The project will be at this location through the end of September, but organizers hope it will continue as a roving studio/gallery, creating opportunities for regional artists and giving soon-to-be-demolished buildings a last hurrah.
The program began in July with installation artist Kathryn Godwin, painter Holly Christine Keogh and sculptor Todd Stewart. Now in residence are performance group XOXO, sculptor Matthew Steele and painter/mixed media artist Robert Childers. The final month, still in the planning stages, will include performance ensemble Triptych Collective.
At the Sept. 4 showcase, you can see how XOXO, Steele and Childers spent the month of August. While there are no other formal visiting or viewing hours, the space is open; you can drop in and chat with artists if they’re not otherwise occupied.
Amy Bagwell and Graham Carew, of the Wall Poems of Charlotte, and Amy Herman are directing the project, backed by a passel of sponsors: building owner Crescent Communities, which initiated the project; Moore and Van Allen; Little Diversified Architectural Consulting; Parkway Properties; The Wilbert Group and Charlotte Center City Partners.