Art museum sets exhibits, receptions

“The Sea Dream” by Jen Swearington of Asheville is part of “RE+ constructed,” an exhibit of work by artists who break from the traditional notions of quilt making that opens with a reception Thursday, June 7, at the Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University.

The Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University will host four exhibits and receptions this summer of works by fiber artists, art educators, American-Indian artists and a draftsman.

“RE+ constructed,” opening Thursday, June 7, with a 5 p.m. reception and running through Friday, Aug. 3, brings together the work of Heidi Field-Alvarez of Henrico, Va., Jeana Eve Klein of Boone, Carolyn Nelson of Elon and Jen Swearington of Asheville, four artists who explore the connection between cloth, history and narrative. While their works technically are quilts – sandwiched layers of fabric and filling bound with stitches – they break from the traditional notions of quilt making. The works in this exhibition represent a variety of materials and processes, including recycled fabric, paint, dye, digital printing and screen-printing, and hand- and machine-stitching. Common among the artists is their manipulation of cloth to tell a story, be it a memory, legend, dream or tall tale.

Also opening June 7 and running through Aug. 3 is “Flora & Fauna: WNC Art Educators Juried Exhibit,” a celebration of the work of artists who also teach children in grades kindergarten through 12th grade across Western North Carolina. The theme of this year’s exhibit is the flora and fauna of the Southeast.

Running concurrently with the art educators exhibit is “Lasting Impressions: Print Portfolio of Contemporary Native American Artists from the Fine Art Museum Collection.” In fact, the two will share a reception at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 19, with art educator awards announced at 5:30 p.m.

“Lasting Impressions,” acquired by the WCU Fine Art Museum in 2005, was printed in a limited edition of 35 by master printer Jack Lemon at Arizona State University Press. Included in the exhibit are 10 renowned American-Indian artists from across the country: Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne/Arapaho), Joe Feddersen (Colville), G. Peter Jemison (Cattaraugus Seneca), Truman Lowe (Ho-Chunk), Duane Slick (Ho-Chunk/Mesquakie), Mario Martinez (Yaqui), Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Flathead), Kay Walkingstick (Cherokee), Emmi Whitehorse (Navajo) and Melanie Yazzie (Navajo).

And rounding out the summer exhibits is work by the late John Heliker, an accomplished draftsman. “Drawing on the New Deal,” a rediscovery of a largely unknown body of work, will run through Sept. 7. Heliker (1909-2000) developed a personal, expressive approach to drawing during the Works Progress Administration. After World War II, he earned acclaim for his bold experimentations with biomorphic and architectonic abstraction.

Also on campus the evenings of June 7 and July 19 are performances in the 2012 Summer Concert Series, presented by WCU’s Arts and Cultural Events. These concerts are free and happen at 7 p.m. Thursdays in June and July on the lawn of the A.K. Hinds University Center. On June 7 is Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers with rock from Charlotte. July 19 is Dead Surf, a surf-inspired four-piece outfit from Columbia, S.C. Audience members are invited to bring blankets, chairs and snacks. A rain location is inside the University Center.

For more information about any of these exhibits or receptions or the WCU Fine Art Museum, contact Denise Drury, interim director of the Fine Art Museum, at 828-227-2553 or

The WCU Fine Art Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday (and until 7 p.m. Thursdays). Admission and parking are free. Learn more online at