Photographer Shane Booth on Stories of Self and Place

Photographer Shane Booth, with Helen.

Shane Booth grew up in central Nebraska where he would spend hours looking at family photos with his grandmother, sparking his love for photography. He graduated with a BA in art from Nebraska Wesleyan University and an MFA in photography from the Savanna College of Art and Design. Currently he is a Full Professor of photography at Fayetteville State University. His diverse body of work has taken him all over the world where he has taught workshops and exhibited work in Sweden, Africa, Taiwan, and most recently Russia. He received a grant to work with HIV positive orphans in Ethiopia with Artists for Charity, and was awarded a another grant by the US Embassy in Moscow to work with the LGBTQ and HIV positive people in Russia. He has many honors including being nominated for Sweden’s favorite TV star by QX magazine for his stint on the wildly popular reality tv show Allt for Sverige, tackling the subject of being HIV positive. It was his time on this show that took him back to his roots and he began photographing Nebraska and its people. He also photographed Laura Bush for The National Willa Cather Foundation. His camera of choice is an antique studio camera from 1867 which he found in a junk shop in Alma NE that he has converted to shoot 8×10 film.  

3 Things you can’t live without & why: I cannot live without Coffee (Starbucks is the best).  I learned to drink it in Sweden and have been addicted ever since! Pandemic Taylor Swift ( her last two albums were brilliant). I have literally listened to nothing but those two albums for 6 months now. And of course my camera. Or actually any type of camera will do. I love making images!!

Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: Hmmmm, that’s a hard one but I am gonna have to say Sara Meyers Sourcier! I would love to have the ability to paint like she does! Oh the stories I could tell if I had that ability!!

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently working with Cyanotypes combining my love for graphic arts and ancient photography techniques. I love combining new technology with antique processes. I combine digital photography and graphics with the cyanotype process.

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? During the pandemic I have had the motto “just make it”. All of my work is deeply personal and with so much time, I have had the opportunity to flush out some of the ideas that live in my head. Some have been successful and others not so much. Being your authentic self is so important when making art. So much soul searching happened during the pandemic and my photography has been a great way to express that. I will definitely continue to work with this freedom!

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. As a photographer I practice my art wherever my subject is. This is consistently Nebraska and my home in Benson NC.

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? My voice comes from my life experiences  and my Nebraska upbringing. My artwork often revolves around pastoral scenes that have deeper meanings. The Landscapes are self-portraits, and the portraits tell stories. My love of the Nebraska author Willa Cather is also a great influence on my work. Her ability to connect the reader to the subject is something I aspire to do with my photography.

Advice to newer artists in your genre. My advice to artists is always be your authentic self! It is so important to make work about what you know.

Rachel Espenlaub on Rome and Rhymes

Rachel Espenlaub (b. 1991) is an acrylic abstract painter from Colorado Springs, CO. She earned a B.F.A. in Painting from Tyler School of Art at Temple University (Philadelphia, PA) in 2015, with a 1.5 year study abroad at Temple’s campus in Rome, Italy. Notable awards include a National Gold Medal in Painting from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (New York, NY; 2010). She recently completed a six month painting retreat and internship at the Gallery of Art at Temple University Rome. Currently, she is based in Fayetteville, NC. “Structure and rules are the basis for my work. My paintings are flat, simple arrangements of shapes that follow specific patterns for color and position. Sharp, crisp edges add definition and emphasize orderliness. Color rules create predictability and calmness. I enjoy the challenge of simplistic compositions that convey compelling rhythmic architectures.” Venmo: @rachelespenlaub

Favorite Local Place: Leclair’s General Store

3 Things I Can’t Live Without: Dogs, chocolate, outdoor spaces to enjoy

Local Artist I admire: Kenneth Proseus (an artist, gallery owner, and art promoter who lives in Raleigh)

A practice I’ve started in quarantine that I plan to continue: starting the day off with a long walk with the dogs

One of my current artistic experiments: painting with a very limited color palette for at least 10 paintings

Someone who encouraged my art work: My parents every step of the way!

My advice for other artists: Get rid of the pressure to make artwork you think other people will like or is cool. If you stay true to making the art that is fun and interesting to you, others will see that in your work.

Nikki Loy on Coffee, Color, & Creatives

Nikki with brown wavy hair and blue shirt in front of orange background
Nikki Loy

My name is Nikki Loy. I was born and raised in southeastern North Carolina. My education has moved me to several places around the state, but the coast has always been my favorite place to be. The ocean makes its way into a lot of my artwork, but I love to travel and share my experiences through my art. Elements of light, architecture, movement, and reflection have become important to my art. I loved watching how quickly a storm would roll in and bring a sense of cleansing with it. My work is inspired by traveling to places that have struggled with natural disasters and exploring how they have built themselves and what continues to attract people. I aim to create art in which a viewer sees a landscape or events are more than just a beautiful place. I want my art to inspire people to stop and consider the beauty around them.

“Hwy 12”

Favorite Local Third Place: Dirtbag Ales is my favorite place to hang out and eat delicious food. I love that they support so many artists and host events to keep people connected. I was so happy to see them host Art After Dark because of all of the cancelled events, shows, and exhibitions this year. 

3 Things you can’t live without: My watercolor pencils and camera go with me any time I travel. I spend a lot of time at the beach and like to sketch while I’m there. I also probably wouldn’t be a happy camper if I had to go without iced coffee. I know, it’s terrible.

Local artist (any genre) you admire. I really enjoy Emily Musolino’s music! She’s amazing.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: It all began with a French press that was gifted to me earlier this year. I didn’t have time to use it before quarantine. I started making coffee every morning and working on quick art projects. Quarantine gave me a renewed connection to the artwork that I am making. It slowed me down enough to really think about the kind of art that I want to make. I feel like my creativity comes in waves and I needed that space to really dive into my work. 

“Self Portrait”

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I’ve been experimenting with color in my work. I’ve always wanted to be a hyper-realist with my painting, but it’s just not my style. I like the constraints of realism with the freedom to express myself using unrealistic colors. 

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? The first group of people that comes to mind are strangers on the internet. When people are passionate about art, they’ll want to see you succeed. Outside of that, my family has always been supportive of my artwork.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Keep doing hard things, the things that make you stop for a second and question if you should, because you absolutely should do it. And keep meeting people who make art. I think it’s easy for artists to isolate, but there’s nothing like having a support system of creatives in your life. Other artists usually want to see you succeed and success is better when it’s shared.

Catching All the Artistic Opportunities: Jessilee Hari

Jessilee Hari in her art studio, various paintings and collage on the wall behind her

Besides family and a career as a logistics specialist in the Air Force, Hari works across both visual and performing arts fields. You can also catch her catching Pokemon in downtown Fayetteville on Community Pokemon Go! Days.

I was born with a natural drive to create art. I began with doodles, which turned into painting murals on my bedroom walls. That drove me to create completed works of art. I am skilled in modeling clay, pottery, drawing, painting, vocal arts, and performance arts. I attended Mississippi School of the Arts, a high school for artistically gifted kids, where I found out I could compete vocally. I sang at Carnegie Hall in NY and performed John Rutter’s “Requiem” with our choir. I also fell in love with dance: I created my own choreography for a show. In the visual arts, I was awarded the highest accolades for my portfolio in MS. I put on my own show and fell in love with displaying my works. Years later I put on a second show held in Memphis, TN and am now currently in the works for my third show to be held here in Fayetteville.

Put your voice in your art and you will find gratification in your work.

Jessilee Hari

Favorite Local Third Place: I have to admit, I am stuck on Latitude 35’s shrimp tacos with sweet potato fries. I crave them. So, I like to take my out of town family and friends there to enjoy the patio seating. I have been to a few events there, one of which was with the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. I have had art discussion meet ups on the patio as well. I love it. It is a wonderful place to sit down for a discussion and a meal with a breeze on your face and a cold one to sip on. The staff is friendly, and the establishment has a family feel to it, as if they genuinely appreciate you coming to dine.

3 Things you can’t live without: Standup comedy. I LOVE to laugh, and many nights I fall asleep watching Dry Bar Comedy videos online. I feel like laughter is a medicine of its own. Just a few laughs every day keeps me feeling positive. It is so easy to get caught up in all the negative parts of life right now. 

Cereal. It is its own food group in my home.

Outdoor experiences. Camping, canoeing, rock climbing, hiking, tree climbing, inline skating, biking, sky watching, rainstorms, stone skipping on lakes, fishing, etc. All of it. Many of my most nostalgic memories are from the outdoor moments in my life. Being outside inspires me to really take in life in the moment. It inspires me to create.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: I have fortunately had the opportunity to meet several local artists. One of my favorite local artists was a woman I met through the Cool Spring Downtown Street Busker program. I wish so badly I could remember her name. Fortunately, I can’t forget her performance. Her confidence in her art form was striking and mesmerizing. Belly dancing is so physically demanding. She had the moves and security in her own talent to perform in front of hundreds of people both on the street and at local events. She was a beautiful soul. 

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I have begun illustrated journaling. Covid-19 has completely changed the way I live my life. With all the added stressors, I needed a cathartic outlet I could pick up and put down with no associated time limit. I found illustrated journaling to be an important part of stress relief in that the images do not need to be planned out or utilize any formal techniques like I would with a painting. The images also flow freely from my mind like words would for a writer. I began my artistic journey with graphite #2 pencils and pens in the classroom. Going back to that baseline feels like a blast from the past.  I forgot how much I love to draw. I usually utilize painting as an outlet, so I like to incorporate mixed media in the journal illustrations: graphite, tea, pen, or watercolors. 

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I love to experiment with new media. Right now, I am experimenting with adhesives and glass. I am only using the glass as the material to create the images on. I am using adhesives to create textures and translucent imagery. I am enjoying this form of experimentation quite a bit. It feels like a problem to solve since I am learning the capabilities of each adhesive. I love mixed media. 

To give an example, I used a glass pane as my canvas. I used color pigment in an adhesive to create solid color marks on the glass. Then I filled in areas with a clear adhesive and strategically implanted pigments into it to leave the translucent effect. My favorite objective for mixed media is creating art that makes onlookers want to touch it. 

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? Out of all my mentors over the years, there has always been one constant supporter of my art: my Father. I have had art instructors when I was a teen, admirers in my friends, but no one who has ever believed in me more than my Dad. If he could, he would buy every piece of art I ever create or commission me to create works for his home. I have a completely biased supporter, but he has encouraged me to pursue my artistic interests over anything else due to the intrinsic rewards I get from them.  He would say “you can work any job to get money; why not be in a career that doesn’t feel like work?” He always seemed to have all the right words to say. My Father put many miles on his vehicle transporting me back and forth from his home to Mississippi School of the Arts. He encouraged me to attend their program there, for which I lived on campus for 2 years. I have not had formal training beyond those 2 years, but they impacted my entire view of what art means. If it were not for my Father, I would have never had that opportunity in my life. 

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Don’t feel like art is a competition of skill, but rather a journey to self-discovery. No, seriously.  So many people criticize the definition of art, trying to fit it into one description or another. “That’s not Art; that’s a craft” or “That’s not Art; I could do that if I felt like it”. Lose the labels and ditch the unnecessary censorship. Your art is just that. I used to strive for perfection in my drawings. For a little while, I thought my art was poor quality because I was not creating hyper-realistic images. Then I remembered the reason I first picked up the brush in the first place. The process of creating was more important than the result. What ended up on the paper or canvas was my voice. Put your voice in your art and you will find gratification in your work.

Slow Fashion, Complex Art: Fiber Artist Kia Love

Kia Jones is a self-taught knitwear designer and fiber artist. She holds an AA degree in Graphic Design and Advertising as well as BFA in Interior Architecture and Design. In 2014, after practicing her craft for 14 years, she launched her brand Kia Love – a women’s knitwear and home decor brand. She specializes in fashionable accessories and home décor for the daring individual who loves bold color and texture. Her current custom collection emphasizes craftsmanship, feminine design and is dedicated to knitwear’s unbeatable comfort, to the way it follows the moves of the body and drapes around it. 

Kia is passionate about slow fashion, the healing powers of fiber arts and the importance of teaching hand crafts to the younger generation. Paypal Email: kialovecreative@gmail.com

Favorite Local Third Place: Myrover-Reese Thrift  Store

3 Things you can’t live without: My yarn, seltzer water and my liquid eyeliner.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Keith DeWayne, painter;  Samod Wilson, painter; Redyn, musician

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Meditation and bike riding.  Both are essential to my physical and mental well-being.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently experimenting with quilted clothing. I learned how to quilt a few years ago. Since, I have become obsessed with creating items that are aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? Me. I always try to outdo myself. 

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Experiment. Fail. Repeat. Knitwear design and textile art isn’t something that you’re good at overnight. It takes years to master your craft and to find your niche. Experiment with knitting, crochet, rug making and sewing. All these things are connected. Knowing a little about everything will ultimately make you a better artist.  

Portraitist Melissa Greco on Music and Meditation

Melissa Greco is “a mom of 3 and wife of a soldier stationed here at Fort Bragg. I’m from California, but this is our second time here in North Carolina so it feels like home. I don’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t enthralled by art and have been drawing my surroundings for as long as I can remember. I remember asking my parents for a kiln for Christmas when I was 10. Over the years I have experimented with every medium I could get my hands on. These days I typically favor watercolor or chalk pastels. Portraits are my favorite, because I love the challenge of bringing a person to life. My decision to sell my art was fairly recent after family and friends begging me to do so for years.” Venmo @Melissa-Greco-11

Favorite Local Third Place: I’m a homebody so I don’t get out very often, especially since the spread of covid-19, but I do love visiting Rude Awakening for some coffee whenever I am downtown.

3 Things you can’t live without: I cannot live without coffee, my pastel pencils, and music. I often put my headphones on and get lost in a painting for hours. My playlist ranges from punk rock to classical music, depending on what I am working on.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Linda Draper of Apex is an amazing oil painter who specializes in pet portraits. As a dog lover myself, I enjoy seeing her capture the character of each pet.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I have started taking some time to myself every day to meditate since quarantine and I look forward to it so much that I plan to continue for as long as I see a benefit.

“Veronica” by Melissa Greco

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently working on a multimedia commission that consists of a monochrome abstract portrait incorporated into a movie poster. I am having a ton of fun with it.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? My sister and my husband have always been supportive and encouraging when it comes to my art.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? My advice is to get out there and make art. Don’t wait until you’re “good enough to be a professional.” There is no such thing. Don’t compare your art to the art of others. We are all constantly learning on our own journey.

Fantastical Figures by Lauren Falls

Lauren Falls is an Illustrator and Graphic Designer specializing in realized portraits with fantastical motifs and elements. Lauren seeks to create abstract emotion as visualized experiences for viewers, using broad color schemes. If you would like to take a look at her work, visit her website laurenroseillustrations.com. You can buy prints of her work at etsy.com/shop/theartshingle. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @laurenroseillustrations.

Favorite Local Third Place: Lake Rim Park

3 Things you can’t live without: my sketchbook, a pencil, and my phone. I love to take photos for reference for  future illustrations while I am out and about.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: I am still really new to the area but I enjoy listening to Lisette.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Figure drawing. I have always enjoyed figure drawing and realized I have not been practicing as much as I used to.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Exploring more with my ink work. I have always enjoyed using ink alongside painting with watercolor in my illustrations.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? My friends have always encouraged me to push myself outside of my own box.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Always keep practicing, set reasonable goals, and surround yourself with people who will encourage you to reach those goals.

Minda Rella on This Comic Life (& Death)

The Multiplicity Bio: You might think Minda is actually more than one person, based on all she does each week. By day, you might find her tending cadavers in the morgue at Fay Tech. Or using her vocal talents as an on-air personality for Beasley Media Group. By night, you’ll find her producing and hosting comedy shows for #910Comedy, the stand-up comedy organization she runs with Dashawn Byron, or tapping into the local pin-up/burlesque subculture for fundraisers at Dirtbag Ales. Oh, and there’s podcasts, too: Dead Girls Talking and That’s Just My Face. Add to that parenting her kids and hitting the road for serious social distancing in her Scamp tiny trailer, when Minda says “don’t get stuck on one path,” she speaks from deep life experience.

Don’t get stuck on one path. There’s always a different way to get something accomplished if the original plan isn’t working. 

Minda Rella

Favorite Local Third Place: I’m very fond of being on the Hope Mills Lake in my kayak 

3 Things you can’t live without: my kids, my kayak, and my phone 

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Val Humphrey. Her art is amazing. 

Minda and DB prep for a #910Comedy show

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Working (slightly) less

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Putting together a talk show 

On air with former co-host Elic

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? I’m very blessed that I have many people pushing me along. Amber Stevens and Tim Dippel are the loudest cheerleaders. 

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Don’t get stuck in one path. There’s always a different way to get something accomplished if the original plan isn’t working. We have many outlets and a podcast network. 

Honorable Poetry: Law Bullock II

A native of Fayetteville, Lawrence “Law” Bullock II is a motivational speaker, spoken word artist, the founder of M.U.G. Photography, a published author, member of Bronco Toastmasters, and a member of Let’s Make It Happen Together, a nonprofit providing positive alternatives for at-risk / high risk youth and families in our communities. His poetry projects have been in a print anthology, online magazine, and his own book. Law acknowledges that art can connect people from different walks of life. No matter your belief system, art knows how to build bridges.

Favorite Local Third Place: The Sweet Palette and Coffee Scene tie

3 Things you can’t live without: God, family and poetry

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Neil Ray

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I picked back up drawing and sketching since it all began

What is one of your current artistic experiments?  Structuring poems into a storyline that continues over several pieces

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? My Aunt

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Stay true to yourself. Never sacrifice who you are just to fit in with the crowd. There will only be one you that brings what you bring to the art form.


 

Adrienne Trego Transfers Skills and Mediums

Adrienne sporting her own resin earrings.

Artistic bio: Adrienne Trego is a visual artist and non-profit professional from Pennsylvania who has called Fayetteville her home since 2013. She currently works with the Autism Society of Cumberland County as the Director of Programs and Outreach. Prior, most of her nearly 15 years of non-profit experience was with arts organizations.

Art has always been at the center of Adrienne’s life. She is incredibly fortunate to come from an arts-loving family and grew up with access to both professional and community theater, dance and music lessons, and art classes. Having access has made much of her arts administration focus on outreach and accessibility for those who have not had the privilege. Holding a degree in Arts Integration, she sees the arts as a powerful tool for emancipatory and experiential education. As a visual artist, Adrienne works in a variety of mediums, but primarily creates wire sculptures, resin jewelry and has more recently discovered her love for fiber arts, specifically embroidery.

I have found truth in the fact that often, the very act of creation is the inspiration.

Adrienne

Favorite Local Third Place: I haven’t utilized too many of my “Third Places” during the pandemic, but Rude Awakening downtown is one of my very favorite places and has been since we made Fayetteville our home.

3 Things you can’t live without: Flavored seltzer water (I used to be loyal only to La Croix but have since branched out), my good pair of pliers, and while they aren’t “things”, I would be remiss if I answered any set of questions without including my love for not just my pets (mutt extraordinaire Ruby and our cat, the Trash Prince Barley) but most everyone else’s pets too. I am known to get lost in a group tracking down a cute dog or a stray cat.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Oh, there are so many! I have been so lucky to work with so many incredible artists, picking one is so hard. But due in part to my recent obsession with embroidery, I have been really inspired by Nanette Zeller, a mindblowingly talented textile artist (based in Moore County I believe) who I first met in 2014 or 2015. In addition to her amazing talent, she is so humble and incredibly kind and a joy to work with. Her kind words about my beginner embroidery work have been so encouraging.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Artistically, I have learned to be more diligent about time spent on creative work. Early on in the pandemic, I knew that as an extrovert in isolation I needed to check in on my mental health often, and a consistent artistic practice is always essential to my well being. So I learned to work on at least one of my many ongoing art projects every single day, even if I don’t really feel like it. Unless I was under a deadline for someone, I used to only create when I felt inspired – and there is value to that – but there is also something fascinating about creating work without “inspiration”. It may sound like some artsy self-help nonsense, but I have found truth in the fact that often, the very act of creation is the inspiration. Some of my best work has been produced when I really had to push myself to produce it.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently shrinking down some of my embroidery designs to make them into jewelry. It’s exciting but also feels pretty typical for me, since creating jewelry has always been consistent across any mediums I’ve discovered. But it’s been so interesting to take embroidery – a medium that conjures up very traditional images of samplers and Grandmothers – and do things that turn that idea on its head. In February, I was delighted to participate in “The Vagina Monologues” with the best group of women I could ever imagine, including my sister Devin. As part of this, I also had the opportunity to include some of my visual art, and I chose embroidery as the medium. I ended up primarily embroidering women’s naked bodies (mostly fat ones, too!), as I was inspired by ideas around bodily autonomy and women’s agency. It’s not exactly what one would think of when they think of embroidery, but it’s really a medium that has had a recent rise in popularity, and most of it has been taking a lot of these traditional techniques and using them to create more modern designs.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? Oh, that’s tough. I am one of those really lucky individuals who is just surrounded by supportive and loving people. I truly can’t pick just one person, my parents, sister, husband, extended family, friends – they have all encouraged my work and most have bought my work, too.

But an early strong influence is my Studio Art teacher in high school, who I am still lucky to be connected with via Facebook. I always was making art, from my earliest memories. But I struggled with a lot of basic drawing, and therefore believed that I was not a good artist. While I have since studied drawing and gotten better, I still gravitate towards other mediums, which I would have never thought of doing if it wasn’t for her encouragement and her introducing me to many materials and techniques that I still lean on today. She had a profound impact on my life and I am so grateful for her early encouragement and to be able to still be connected with her today, some 20 years later.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Go to school for art. I’m serious. So many people seem to have this idea that being an artist isn’t a real profession, or that you have to get a degree in something “practical” or else it’s a waste. This is simply untrue: an art degree is surprisingly practical and flexible. There are so many things that you can do with an art degree – my career is a good example of that. And I use the creative skills I learned in school everyday in my day job and in my personal artistic practice.