Artists' works reveal internal journeys in `Self'

NEIGHBORS

September 11, 2001|By Betsy Diehl | Betsy Diehl,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SOMETIMES ARTISTS liken their crafts to taking journeys, going beyond conventional boundaries of everyday life. Potter Winnie Coggins and painter Trudy Babchak have had strikingly different journeys, but both have landed a spot in the "Self" exhibit at Columbia Art Center.

The two women are among 42 artists and artisans selected from a pool of more than 300 applicants from Maryland, Virginia and Washington to be featured in the juried show of self-portraits, curated by noted Baltimore artist and photographer Mark Clark.

The exhibit, which also features local artists Jan Tamburello, Susan Wertheimer-David, Christina McCleary and Jerry Gettleman, is the brainchild of art center director Rebecca Bafford.

"I was looking for something that artists could sink their teeth into," she said. "We ended up with a wide variety of ways of expressing the idea of the self."

Coggins' entry, Competing Voices, expresses the internal dialogue that she has when brainstorming creative ideas. "I'm thinking of those voices in your head," Coggins said of her three ceramic cylinders, each adorned with three-dimensional faces that appear to be captured mid-sentence. Similar to a set of totem poles, her whimsical creation is a far cry from the functional pottery pieces for which she is best known.

Coggins, who lives in Phelps Luck, was inspired by a recent trip to the National Ceramics Conference in Charlotte, N.C. She was enchanted with "ugly jugs," pottery decorated with exaggerated facial features.

"I thought it would be fun to make something like that," she said. She decided that the "Self" exhibit would be the perfect opportunity to experiment. Inspiration for much of her work comes from her travels and her collection of ceramics, which includes pieces from England and South Korea, sent to her by her sons, Cody and Lee. Coggins and her husband, Jim, plan to visit Lee in Korea this month to attend the World Ceramic Exposition 2001 Korea.

For Coggins, art "is taking me exciting places."

Babchak's art takes her into the past. Her self-portrait, an oil painting titled In His Shadow, depicts her at age 14 with her father, who passed away when Babchak was 15. The pleasant turquoise and peach hues belie a dark subject - her parents' experiences, before her birth, as concentration camp prisoners in Germany during World War II.

"It's affected my life," the Owen Brown resident said. "I think about it all the time. They never talked about [the Holocaust], so I started to paint about it."

Her self-portrait, she says, focuses on the impression her father left on her and "how his experiences affected me when I was growing up."

Babchak's work often has hidden meaning and sometimes hidden paintings. "I paint in layers," she said. "There may be four or five paintings under [the final] painting."

In His Shadow, for instance, started out as a portrait of her father, but she painted over it. "I like the old painting to give history to the painting on top," she said.

An opening reception for "Self" will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Columbia Art Center. The event is free and open to the public. The exhibition runs through Oct. 14.

Information: 410-730-0075.

Around town

Bargain hunters, start your engines. There are a host of flea-market-type events around east Columbia on Saturday.

A Kids Clothes Swap will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Long Reach Village Center parking lot. To reserve a space to sell what your kids have outgrown, call 410-730-8113 by Friday.

Christ Episcopal Church, Oakland Mills Road, will have a flea market that day, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

And Kings Contrivance will hold a flea market from 9 a.m. to noon on the old Friendly's parking lot in the village center. A party will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., celebrating the 15th anniversary of Kings Contrivance village.

A parade from the flea market to the courtyard will start the event, which will include music, puppet shows, magic shows, face-painting and crafts.

Information: 410-992-3600.

Around the lake

Lake Elkhorn is the venue for this Saturday's World Walk, presented by Columbia I and Columbia II La Leche League groups to raise awareness about breast-feeding.

The walk will begin at 4 p.m. at the tot lot off Cradlerock Way. Walkers may follow a one-mile route or a 2.2-mile route around the lake. Participants should bring a dish to share in the potluck supper to be held after the walk. Strollers are welcome.

Information: 410-730-1380.

Parting words

When Assistant Principal Lauren Slattery of Jeffers Hill Elementary School was a little girl, she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up.

"I completely wanted to be an actress," said the 11-year teaching veteran.

Following her acting dreams led her directly into the career she loves. "I did children's theater at my community college on the Eastern Shore," she said. Cast as Piglet in a Winnie the Pooh production, she performed for children at elementary schools.

She so enjoyed her young audiences that she left her acting aspirations behind and went to Towson University to major in elementary education.

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