Priscilla Hollingsworth: Facing Waves

Creel-Harison Gallery

Opening Reception, Friday September 2 from 6-8 p.m. (free admission)

On view until November 7, 2022 (Institute will be closed for a fundraiser November 3 & 4).

About the Artist:

Priscilla Hollingsworth is a ceramic artist whose work includes sculpture, installations, and vessels.  She has shown her work in numerous individual and group exhibitions across the United States from 1985 to the present.  Photographs of her work have been published in seven recent books, including 500 Vases (Lark Books, 2010), 500 Tiles (Lark Books, 2008) and Ceramics: A Potter's Handbook (Glenn Nelson and Richard Burkett, Harcourt College Publishers, 2002). 

Ms. Hollingsworth has received residency awards from the Kohler Company's Arts/Industry Program; the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada; the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Maine; Artpark in Lewiston, New York; and the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  She has received individual artist grants from the states of Georgia and Indiana.  She received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, and an A.B. degree from Princeton University, where she studied with Toshiko Takaezu.  She earned her high school diploma in visual arts from the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.  Currently, Ms. Hollingsworth lives and works in Augusta, Georgia.

Drawing Series: In the Time of Coronavirus

Priscilla Hollingsworth

I made a series of 52 drawings during the lockdown portion of the pandemic. The drawings are based on imagery from an altered book that I made. The book is in full color, and features imagery from many different sources – drawings from my sketchbook, photographs of my clay work, photos clipped from a variety of sources, all placed on pages in an old book that I painted over.

I have made altered books for several years now. They are kind of free-ranging musings on topics that I have a history of thinking about, such as biology and nature and world events and thoughts I have about art that I might want to make, and then I like each book to have some other set of references that is somewhat of a wild card. This time, the different part was Covid-19, the infection that has set the world on its ear while continuing to change.

Each drawing is literally a drawing, free hand, of one page in the book. I chose charcoal for its lushness and immediacy. Hand drawing the images and using only black and white allowed me to deepen some of the imagery in terms of its impact. Few people will ever see the book – it is small and too fragile to put on display – but drawings can be shared more easily as an in-person viewing experience.

I have titled the series “In the Time of Coronavirus”. I made it during the 2020 part of the ongoing pandemic, and it reflects my thoughts of that period of time as well as some of the usual major themes of my artistic thinking: biological forms and processes, objects in environments, permutations and commentaries on these. What is different is the inclusion of more images of the human figure and the form of the coronavirus itself. I tried to raise questions that can’t easily be answered. I know that viewers will put special interpretation into the figures. When a globular, spiky image appears, is it a coronavirus? Is it the one we are worried about? There is dread, and wondering, and distraction and personal isolation as well as connection and context for the image-objects.

At this point, in mid-2022, we have made some progress against Covid-19, but a number of people are still not well protected. At the same time, the virus continues to evolve. Facing each new wave of infection is an ongoing adventure, to say the least.

There are 52 drawings in the original series, and they are meant to be hung close together, though maybe not quite as close as seen here. Shown from left to right, these are numbers 37, 6, 7, 8, 9. 12, 30, 18, 19, 20, and 22.

Facing Waves

Priscilla Hollingsworth: Artist Statement

I’m calling this exhibition Facing Waves because I feel this is what I’ve been doing. The paintings are the result of layers of thinking and response to various events in my life. Some of the events include dealing with the coronavirus as well as more personal events such as the death of my father, ongoing changes in my life as an artist, and learning from my mother.

In significant ways, this series involves fabric. I’ve always been interested in examining fabric, as structure and design and cloth. I started these paintings by cutting strips of cloth and attaching them to the canvas. I began with fabrics whose designs were literally woven in rather than just having patterning on the surface of the cloth.

Each painting started with a vertical division, creating a left and right side – a duality. I’ve been doing this in drawings, placing one scene or texture against a contrasting one (as you can see in the small drawings at the fireplace).

During the time I was painting these paintings, I also began learning how to weave, with my mother as my teacher. Weaving on a floor loom is one of my mother’s skills and life passions. It is not necessarily easy to move into a mother’s territory in this way – especially in my case, because our personalities are different (she is procedural and patient, and I am not so much). But at the same time, it was a rich way to get to know my mother and to be able to continue my thinking about her and my love for her into the future.

But ultimately, paintings must become their own selves, and be very much about painting. Each one of these required a number of layers of thought and paint, many changes, many iterations before they were done.

In the end, the vertical divisions of the paintings took on several roles. Some are juxtapositions that inform each other through comparison and contrast. Some have transition points in which one side becomes the other. Some have forms that make barriers, or perhaps they use the division point as a kind of medium to grow from. Some of the dividing lines are quite clearly permeable. In all of these, you can see references to life forms and their processes – and that’s a theme that runs through all of my work.


For more about the artist,

Friday, September 2, 2022 - 6:00pm to Monday, November 7, 2022 - 5:00pm
Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art