Once again, Athens artist Noah Saunders is all wired up for a trip to ArtFields 2022.
The art show, one of the largest in the Southeast, has in recent years been attracting a large contingent of artists from the Athens area to its Lake City, SC, venue. Saunders is now exhibiting for his fourth year.
An average of 20,000 people attend the nine-day art exhibition that opens Friday and runs through April 30. The show awards $ 100,000 in prizes, including a $ 50,000 grand prize.
“It’s a great opportunity for artists,” Saunders said about the exhibit now entering its 10th year.
Saunders has found himself on annual visits to the small town in South Carolina’s Pee Dee region. On his visits, Saunders said he has developed his favorite stops. He enjoys lunch at Piggyback BBQ & Catfish, an espresso at Baker’s Sweets Bistro & Bakery and a cocktail at The Inn at the Crossroads.
“When showing at ArtFields, 400 artists get feedback from 20,000 people and that is really invaluable for someone thinking about a career in art,” Saunders said.
Saunders is a practitioner of wire art, a rare skill of bending wire into sculptures. In 2019, he won the People’s Choice 3-D award that came with a $ 12,500 check.
This year, he has submitted a wire piece called “Join Me – A Prelude.” The piece took eight months to make and he considers it a culmination of “30 years of practice in bending wire.”
Saunders encourages people to use their cell phone flashlight to work shadows on the sculpture to create “mood and expression.”
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Other Athens artists showing at ArtFields this year are Cheryl Goldsleger, Matthew Hoban, Elinor Saragoussi Phillip, Jennifer Niswonger-Morris and artistic collaborators Jon Swindler and Sara Hess.
Hess and Swindler started working together in 2019. In a statement, they wrote that they are constantly documenting, collecting and drawing with a “shared interest in ‘comfort clutter.'”
Goldsleger said her work, “Exodos,” embodies her thoughts for the people of Afghanistan, especially Kabul and “the chaotic paths” of the residents escaping the attacks of the Taliban. Work on the intricate painting took about 18 months.
Hoban presented a piece called “Retracing My Steps,” a series of etchings that reflect the places he has called home that began with a simple line drawing of the living room in his first home in Georgia.
Niswonger-Morris is a native of Indiana who paints scenes of “flesh and fabric.” She is also an art instructor.
Phillip is originally from Colorado and has done commissioned works around Athens, including a beer car for Creature Comforts.
Artfields judges will announce the winners for this year’s event on April 30 during an evening gala event featuring The Voltage Brothers, a musical group from Charlotte, NC, and a fireworks display.