Artists showcase nature in ‘Lay of the Land’ exhibit
Trees, fields, birds and butterflies were represented in different mediums at the recent “Lay of the Land” art exhibit, held at the War Memorial Building on German Street.
Three local artists, Susan Carney, Neil Super and Mark Muse came together to weave a common theme through different forms of art.
Mark Muse, photographer, displayed his photographs of nature and architecture.
Muse started photographing as a teenager, and worked in the printing industry for most of his career. He turned back to photography as a hobby about 15 years ago.
“It’s something I do as a passion,” said Muse. “It’s sort of an excuse to go places I like to go and walk around with my camera, like Dolly Sods, Roaring Plains, or Canaan Valley or here in the area.”
Muse said his works speaks for itself and reflects him pretty well.
“I photograph whatever catches my eye,” said Muse. “It’s usually the graphics of it or the light. Then it’s a matter of trying to identify specifically what it is, and then once I do that, can I frame it? Does it still work when it’s in a rectangle?”
Of course, his work really begins in the post process. He said he could easily spend 24 hours on one image, getting it where he wants it to be.
“I start out with global change, total adjustments over all. Color balance, overall sharpening, that sort of thing. Then I start looking at details and sections of the image. For example, burning in the top of a sky a little bit so it helps contain the view within the frame. It’s subtle. I keep everything very subtle – I don’t want it to draw attention to itself. All those little subtle things add up. I’ll open up the shadows and then maybe I’ll need to do some selective sharpening, maybe a little more contrast in certain areas to bring up the textures I want to see there,” Muse said.
Muse observes every detail of his photographs from the certain undulations of branches to light playing on a particular leaf to bring his work to life. Many of his photographs can be viewed at his website, markmusephotographs.com.
Combining wood and history into a beautiful work of art is Neil Super’s passion. He is the owner of Two Rivers Turnings, www.tworiversturnings.com, and lives and works in Shepherdstown.
Super only uses wood from trees that have fallen or have had to be removed from a property for a specific reason – he doesn’t cut down trees for his creations. Usually the trees have a historical or personal significance to him or the property owner.
At the “Lay of the Land” exhibit, Super had several items made from trees taken from the battlefield of the Battle of Shepherdstown.
The importance of local history resonates with Super and has enabled him to form a synergetic relationship with the Battlefield Preservation Association, in that he donates a percentage of revenue from sales to further their efforts at acquiring more land.
“They make me sort-of a corporate sponsor and let me have the wood, and in return, I’m sending them money, but more importantly, building awareness (of the battlefield and it’s significance).”
His creations are all numbered come with a providence card that recounts the chronology or history of the tree used, all of which are documented on his website.
“I like to tell as much of the story as I can without getting too bogged down in information – just enough to introduce someone to the history and pique their interest,” said Super.
Super’s creations allow people to own a piece of history that they would probably not otherwise be able to own.
“I do battlefield pens for that reason,” said Super. “My idea is that it’s (wood creation) useful if possible. Some are just decorative, but if possible a useful object like a bowl or a plate that can be a reminder of the tangible place that we should remember; that we’d like to remember.”
Susan Carney’s vibrant paintings adorned the walls of the War Memorial building as well. Carney is a Shepherd graduate who also lives and creates in Shepherdstown.
Visit her website to see her work, susancarney.com.