Roots Up Gallery will continue its strong tradition of showing exceptional work from visionary “outsider” artists from around the region during the upcoming Savannah Art Walk on Nov. 10.
Award-winning assemblage artist Robin Howard will debut new work during the Art Walk and it should definitely be considered a don't-miss opportunity.
Howard lives and works in Charleston, S.C. She is the recipient of a Fodor's Choice Gold Award and was recently named among the Best of the South by Garden & Gun Magazine. Her work consists of a variety of materials, including different fibers, handmade paper, and found objects, which she configures inside small wooden boxes, creating a sort of alchemic magic that manifests mysterious and wonderful mini vignettes conjured from some strange corner of her imagination.
“I aim to capture a particular feeling in each of my pieces,” says Howard. “It's that exact feeling we had as little kids when we'd find something mysterious that we thought nobody had ever discovered before and we had to dig it up/explore it/draw maps/keep it secret from other kids. It's that rare, fleeting feeling of mystery, discovery and wonder that I want to share.”
Howard's artwork creates a frisson that comes from glimpsing an enigmatic hidden universe in miniature. It's the thrill of not exactly knowing what you're looking at, but the longer you look, the more it reveals itself.
“I believe in that special kind of magic,” says Howard. “I believe that the feelings I put into art translate to the viewer on a quantum level. I've always believed that, which is why I don't work when I'm upset or don't feel well, and why I insulate myself from the busyness of the real world more than most. There is a theme in these pieces — it's a sort of nostalgia, or a visual representation of the layers of time. To me these pieces feel like discovering the writings of a long-gone scientist who devoted their life to wonder.”
Though the category of folk art or so-called outsider art can be somewhat squishy, Howard's work fits quite comfortably in the self-defined category of “other.”
“I grew up in rural Indiana, where raw art is common,” says Howard. “This is work made by creatives who have no exposure to fine art or the art world and are completely unencumbered by the art market (a wonderful thing). The result is extremely original, sincere work that requires no educated interpretation. It just goes straight to your head and heart like a sugar rush.
"I don't have a formal art education, but I do have a formal education (archaeology and anthropology) so I am aware of the art market. The trick is to maintain the primal act of creating without being influenced by what the work might be worth in dollars or acclaim.”
Howard's work will be on view at Roots Up indefinitely, but the second Saturday Savannah Art Walk is a great chance to view her work along with all the other participating downtown galleries.
IF YOU GO
What: New works by assemblage artist Robin Howard
When: 2-7 p.m. Nov. 10, during Savannah Art Walk
Where: Roots Up Gallery, 412 Whitaker St.
Cost: Free; artwork for sale
Info: rootsupgallery.com, savannahartwalk.com