A gallery reception was held Aug. 2 in honor of artist Cory Willingham whose art is now on display in the Welborn Gallery at the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center.
Willingham is the niece of Yadkin Arts Council President John Willingham.
”This is a great occasion for me personally,” John Willingham said as he welcomed guests to the reception.
This is Willingham’s third time exhibiting her work in the gallery in Yadkinville.
“It is a huge honor to get to show in this gallery because this is a phenomenal space,” Cory Willingham said. She said galleries in larger cities where she has lived such as Houston did not have galleries that could compare to the lighting and design of the gallery space in Yadkinville.
“The community that rallies around events in this center is so fantastic,” she added.
Guests enjoyed local wine and light refreshments and had the opportunity to meet Willingham as well as her husband Nick van der Does and the couple’s daughter, Lucy Eloise.
Willingham said it was hard to choose a favorite work from the show, but she is particularly proud and fond of a series of whimsical bird paintings that are painted upon a backdrop done by her daughter.
“What began as my most abstract effort, and because I have been painting birds for years now and still love capturing their spirit, is a group of wonderful paintings with brightly-colored backgrounds and fluid, active brushwork with dynamic birds in flight. Perhaps one of my most favorite aspects of these works is that several of these canvases started as paintings by my toddler! Ellie often comes down to my studio and wants to paint when she sees Mommy working, so I keep several canvases around I can whip out and let her splash paint on. As an experiment, I grabbed one of those, added a layer of paint applied with a palette knife, then scratched back through my layer to reveal her brightly painted underpainting. I adored the effect so much I bribed her with pancakes to paint more for me so that I could repeat the process for three more paintings,” Willingham explained.
The exhibit entitled “Five Facets: Variations of Contemporary Realism” began as an experiment of sorts, where Willingham chose to paint in several different styles and had originally planned to exhibit them as the works of five different fiction artists.
“My original concept, which was hatched over 10 years ago, was to create what I dubbed the ‘Faux Show’; I intended to invent five different fictional artists (complete with different artist statements and photos), and displaying five completely different styles/subject matters,” Willingham told The Yadkin Ripple. “I have always taken issue with the fact that artists must somehow create a singular, signature brand — a very recognizable, signature style — in order to be commercially successful.”
As she began to paint in these different styles, however, she quickly realized that they all had similarities that reflected her own personal style.
“Once I started painting, the harder I tried to create these very different aesthetics, the more my true, signature style seemed to creep through. This was, for all intents and purposes, a backwards experiment in which I inevitably realized that I truly do have a singular, artistic vision that cannot be repressed,” Willingham said. “After about the 15th painting, it became very clear to me that what I was doing was not, in fact, construing five different artists, but shining a spotlight on the one artist I couldn’t seem to define before starting down this path — myself.”
For information on upcoming events at the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center, visit www.yadkinarts.org. View more of Willingham’s work on her Instagram @corywillinghamstudio.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-518-3049 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.