Art professor's exhibit exemplifies creative process

The work of professor Patrice Case is being showcased in the Lockhart Gallery on Main Street in the captivating collection "Evolve: Process," which spans a wide range of metalsmithing techniques.

As explained in Case's artist statement, "[The show] displays the evolution of design through the format of a series." She describes her work as retrospective: "It shows the evolution of how I think, not just the physical objects." She questions concepts such as containment: What makes a vessel a vessel?

In the piece "New Dawn," this means experimenting with the relationship between interior and exterior. This raised copper vessel, at first glance, appears to have a removable lid, but upon closer investigation, one can see that the lid has been soldered down. It has also been pierced, creating a pattern of negative space and bringing the piece back into the realm of vessels rather than a hollow object.

The exhibit's predominant theme is the combination of unexpected materials. This is especially apparent in the "Little Felt Bag Series," a series of brooches attached to red felt bags and made of sterling silver and gold. A small window in each reveals a found object or stone where one might expect to see a jewel.

Case explained that this idea came to her in the time of the surge of over-the-edge "bling" jewelry. The packaging of a red felt bag or the little blue Tiffany's box, became symbolic of status. "The statement of wealth is juxtaposed with the idea that anything can be important," Case said.

Similarly, in "Sponge I, II, III," a series of brooches, sterling silver and pearls are nestled into naturally red sea sponges. The forms are representative of a subtropical vine called a loofah. Case explained in her artist statement, "The inspiration for my design process comes from a continual exploration of natural forms and the environment. I visualize my world as a collection of curious materials that offer an ever-changing relationship between line, shape, texture, color and surface."

The "Little Feet Series," a series of uniquely shaped vessels, reveals brilliant matte colors, uncommon for works of metal. Case explained that she gessoes the metal surface and uses colored pencil to achieve the coloration. This allows for a matte surface rather than the glossy surface of enamel, the typical technique for coloring metal, as well as much more control over layering, removing and reapplying color.

"The process is a creative balance between conception of an idea, a form, function, structure and ultimately technique and material," Case said in her artist statement.

The Lockhart Gallery is located in the McClellan House at 26 Main St. and is open Monday through Thursday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.

"Evolve: Process"on display until May 4The Lockhart Gallery Monday - Thursday 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Friday - Saturday 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.