Artists in Action: JSU exhibit, Sacred Harp worth a look
by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star
Oct 07, 2012 | 2801 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Watercolors by Bryce Lafferty at Hammond Hall Gallery at JSU will be up through Oct. 26. Photo: Submitted photo
Watercolors by Bryce Lafferty at Hammond Hall Gallery at JSU will be up through Oct. 26. Photo: Submitted photo
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Watercolor on paper

Bryce Lafferty’s one-man show at Jacksonville State University’s Hammond Hall Gallery fits right in with the feel of fall. A burst of vibrant reds, browns and oranges meets the viewer’s eye first. Then the motion and shapes in his paintings inspire excitement and thoughts of new possibilities as a new semester and art season begins. Lafferty, assistant professor of art and drawing at JSU, has a fresh approach in illustrating the visual beauty of northeast Alabama and his pleasure in living here.

The display contains two bodies of work, the first inspired by his visual experiences in Denton, Texas, where he and his family lived before moving to Calhoun County last fall. The architectural and zoning aspects of the Jacksonville area inspired the second. It is these features that have led him to share his appreciation of an environment that many of us may take for granted.

“To see a fine home next to a trailer is an interesting dynamic to me,” he reflects. “It’s very appealing and different from the neighborhoods in Texas. Also, I see beauty in the hills, the trees, my neighbors’ gardens … and Cheaha Mountain in the distance. Living here has been a great experience, all around.”

Lafferty said his objective was to express this appreciation in imaginative and inventive ways. He describes his work as contemporary art, inspired by architectural illustrations.

Lafferty received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Central Connecticut University and his Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Texas. He teaches watercolor, drawing and oil painting at JSU. But he favors watercolor as a medium.

“It’s very accessible, and an artist can start right in on it immediately,” he said. “It may not be regarded as a serious form, but it should be. I hope this exhibit will point out that watercolor is indeed a challenge. It’s what you do with it that counts.”

Hammond Hall Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lafferty’s exhibit, On Paper, will be up through Oct. 26. It is his first solo exhibit in the gallery.

Sacred Harp explained

Most of us know that Sacred Harp singing has a presence in northeast Alabama. But what, exactly, does this primitive art involve? Pianist Renè Greene of Glencoe will shed more light on this American tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries when he speaks on the history, sound and method of Sacred Harp music at the Public Library of Anniston and Calhoun County on Oct. 18 at 2 p.m.

“It’s different from mainstream church music,” Greene explains. “It’s primitive, enticing and ethereal, all at the same time. It’s a very powerful form of worship.”

While “harp” is an old word for a hymnal with music (the first one was published in 1844) “Sacred Harp” is a reference to the human voice, or an ensemble of voices, Greene said. The singers, usually in large numbers, sing without instrumental accompaniment.

It has enjoyed a large following with folk and choral music lovers lately, especially after it was featured in the 2003 movie “Cold Mountain” and periodically on National Public Radio.
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Artists in Action: JSU exhibit, Sacred Harp worth a look by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star

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