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Artist’s daily diary of cuteness comes to Revolution Mill

A plum-colored octopus makes doughnuts in the kitchen, two tentacles whisking the contents of a bowl, another grasping vanilla extract. She cradles butter, an egg and three fresh doughnuts in her free tentacles. According to artist Jane Oliver, the image resonates with mothers who never seem to have enough hands.

Revolution Mill’s Central Gallery is showing a selection of Oliver’s latest works through Jan. 20. She earned her MFA in painting and printmaking from UNCG in 2002 where she taught drawing and art history courses for several years. From 2014 to 2016, she taught art history and introductory design at High Point University.

“One of the things you learn in school is the importance of keeping a sketchbook,” Oliver says. “A lot of students don’t like the idea when you turn it into a homework sort of thing but when it’s your own initiative, when you decide it’s important to keep continuing your exploration of different mediums, different things to draw, drawing from life, drawing from imagination, whatever, it’s for you and no one else. When I made a promise to myself last November [to draw every day], I thought: Well, how am I going to keep it?

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Anj ponders significance of black hair and other adornments

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“When my mama finished my hair she would pull the hair from the comb, sit it in her ashtray and burn it,” Anj writes in the first line of a tender poem nestled on her website beside a photograph of people with intertwined arms, their faces obscured — his wound up with gauzy cloth and hers by an encirclement of braided hair.

“Anj” is multimedia artist, writer and creative entrepreneur Ashley Johnson, a UNCG grad who grew up in Winston-Salem and who’s recently landed her first solo exhibit in the Central Gallery at Greensboro’s Revolution Mill. Reach, a selection of Johnson’s past and contemporary works that focuses on generational aspects of Southern femininity and black-hair identity, will find a home at the old textile mill through Aug. 12.

“The crux of my work and the crux of who I am today is tied to the practices of black hair,” she says.

Johnson’s mother chemically straightened her hair for as long as she can remember. She recalls picking at scabs from burns the relaxer’s hydroxides seared into her scalp, and years of back-of-the-mind curiosity about the natural layer of growth underneath.

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Agnes Preston-Brame leaves an impression at Revolution Mill

Preston-Brame in front of “Where Are We Going?” (2018). (photo by Lauren Barber)

Preston-Brame in front of “Where Are We Going?” (2018). (photo by Lauren Barber)

They say if you want to know what mood you are in, you best start singing,” she says. “Whatever song comes out of you, it will tell you.”

This is one of Agnes Preston-Brame’s firmly held beliefs, and for her it holds true for the colors on her painter’s palette.

Born in Budapest, she defected from Soviet-controlled Hungary and immigrated to the United States, where she felt she could become the artist she wanted to be without the threat of state censorship. She earned her fine-arts degree from New York University in 1971 before moving to Greensboro in 1986. When she’s not traveling the world, she splits time between her interior design firm, Metamorphosis Design, and painting in her home studio. Her latest exhibit, figurEtively speaking, which is on view in the Central Gallery at Revolution Mill, features her most recent works.

“What I do is depict emotions, attitudes,” she says. “Often, I have done paintings without facial character that people recognize as their daughter or someone. So, it’s a character of the body, the human form that interests me.”

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