ArtFields is a week-long competition and celebration of southern art held annually in Lake City, SC. Put together by the ArtFields Collective, which got its start in 2013 with a goal of honoring the southeast’s artists by turning their small town into a city-wide art gallery with several local galleries and businesses hosting artworks submitted by more than 1,000 artists.
Out of the 1000+ submissions, up to 400 works of art will be on display in Lake City’s locally-owned venues, from renovated 1920s warehouses and professional art spaces such as Jones-Carter Gallery and TRAX Visual Art Center to the library, the history museum, the Ronald E. McNair Life History Center,
restaurants, boutiques and other shops. During ArtFields, what was once one of South Carolina’s most prosperous agricultural communities becomes an art gallery that recognizes, celebrates and shares the artistic talent of the Southeast, including some of the Augusta River Regions very own visual artists. These creatives will compete for an array of prizes which total up to $145,000.
The list for this year’s showcase is brimming with some of the Southeast’s best and brightest artistic talents. Including local artists such as Elizabeth Barnes of North Augusta, Logan Beasley of Aiken, Beth Droppleman of Augusta, Heather René Dunaway of Martinez, Leslie Hamrick of Evans, Betsy Hughes of Aiken, Joseph Kameen of Graniteville, and Diana Kirkpatrick of Aiken.
A few of these Augusta River Region artists agreed to be interviewed for this article. You can find the last batch of local artist’s interviews here.
Beth Droppleman is a French professor turned BFA student at Augusta University. In 2018, Beth discovered Artfields through CaFE, a call for entry website. That same year, she was able to visit the exhibition with a friend and fellow artist, Mel Cearley. They spent an entire day in Lake City, SC with the goal of seeing every piece of art. Becoming a Fine Arts Student and learning new skills and testing new mediums at Augusta University gave Beth the confidence boost needed to apply for herself for the 2023 exhibition, where Oyster Armor was accepted. “Laughter and tears of joy ensued” after Beth’s Daughter Charlotte read aloud her acceptance email.
Being a painter, Beth often uses acrylics to paint seascapes, where she draws inspiration. As a student, she has been exposed to an array of new mediums to experiment with. Under the instruction of AU Professor Katie Kameen, Beth completed Oyster Armor. This work was created for a class project; using 100+ found objects, oyster shells.
Oyster Armor reimagines ancient scale armor, created with shell instead of leather and is scaled to fit a female. It is Beth’s hope that this piece’s inclusion in Artfields will help raise awareness about oysters’ importance to our coastal ecosystem and the need to protect them. These tiny but mighty creatures play a vital role in filtering sea water, sheltering young marine life, providing food for many organisms and preventing erosion.
“The aesthetic goal of this work was to create a Gestalt Effect. From afar, Oyster Armor mimics armor. Up close, each piece is different in subtle color shifts, weathered layers and broken beauty. Despite their worn look, they are as sturdy as concrete due to multiple layers of nacre, also known as mother of pearl, that is excreted in response to an irritation. Each shell’s unique beauty derives from the process that gives it strength. Artifacts of scale armor date back to 1400 BC and were scaled to fit the male body. This piece reimagines scale armor for a female frame. It includes strategic accessories that the male versions do not: a collar-shielding necklace, winged shoulders and hefty spine protector. The oyster shell’s shape recalls that of the womb and symbolizes my lived experience as a woman. The oyster armor represents the great beauty and the heavy burden carried by those who identify as woman.” -Beth Droppleman
You can find Beth Dropplemans work on social media through her Instagram and Facebook accounts. You can also find her work published in Evergreen: The Magazine, at local venues such as the Mary S. Byrd Gallery of Art, Westobou, Sacred Heart Cultural Center, and in the Greater Augusta Arts Council galleries and events.
Logan Beasley is an artist who currently resides in Aiken, SC. He just recently graduated from Coastal Carolina University. He works predominately with oil paints on canvas but has also worked in metalsmithing and ceramics. His work consists of imagery that is sentimental in nature, often painting landscapes, portraits and events.
As a student at the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology in Myrtle Beach I had the experience of being introduced and accepted into Artfields junior. Now that he has aged-out, Logan submitted to the ArtFields Competition and was accepted.
“I was very surprised to be one of the few entrees to get in to Artfields. I assumed I would not make it again this year. I’m stunned and very excited.”
His painting, Laissez la Bon Temps Rouler (Let the Good Times Roll) will be featured in this year’s ArtFields. This work depicts a scene from a New Orleans Jazz club. Clubs such as these can be founds scattered all throughout the city of New Orleans, often having intimate musical performances by local jazz groups and musicians.
This painting is of hte Maison Bourbon Jazz Club, whic can be found off the infamous Bourbon St. in the heart of historic New Orleans, Louisiana. It is one of two soley Jazz Clubs on Bourbon St., with round the clock Jazz performances.
In this painting, Logan opted to not focus solely on the musicians in this scene, but rather the scene as a whole, from a spectator’s standpoint. The viewer joins the crowd as they enjoy cocktails, conversation and music. Music isn’t just about the sound of the musician’ instruments or singer’s voices, but also the community that supports it. Music in itself is an experience. Logan wanted to portray this notion through this oil painting.
Logan Has shown work in the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum, Artfields Jr, in the Brawner Art Gallery in North Myrtle Beach and most recently in Archarios, a literary and art magazine at Coastal Carolina University. This work has been composed of scenic Landscape paintings and portraiture as well as commissioned pieces throughout 2018-2022. You can also find Logan’s work on Instagram and his Facebook page, as well as his website.
Elizabeth Barnes has been creating her whole life. After attending many workshops and classes in places all over the states, including Maine, NH, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama she graduated from Augusta University (then Augusta College) in 1992 with a BFA. She is widely known in Augusta, GA for her spectacular business, Artful Expectations, which produced artful designs and creations from body casts of expecting mothers. Some of which can be seen hanging in the New Moon Cafe in downtown Augusta.
Barnes sees life as a creative adventure. She plans to “joyfully continue to expand and explore the world!” Her newest adventure, being ArtFeilds in Lake City, SC.
After reading about Art Fields over the past several years, Elizabeth was able to check it out for herself and view local artist and AU Professor, Brian Rust’s exhibit when he participated in 2018. This solidified her desire to participate as an artist herself. Upon her completion of Pareidolia, she knew it was the right time and the right piece to enter.
Pareidolia is a unique sculpture made from alabaster. Barnes’ first step in carving was to spray the alabaster block with water. This brought out its natural colors and markings, drawing inspiration from them. She began to see a diversity of faces emerge from the stone, each unique with their own personality and story. A world of individuals from all nations joining together, supporting each other to create a beautiful and peaceful world.
Alabaster, as a material, is usually lightly colored, translucent, and soft. It has been used throughout history primarily for carving decorative artifacts. Many ancient civilizations such as Egyptian, Roman and Greek utilized alabaster for vessels. reliefs and figures.
In Pareidolia we see this material come to life with what can be seen as a subtle nod to its ancient past. The figures have an old-world quality to them, giving this work an air of discovery. Putting the art in artifact. While simultaneously the warm and unifying presence of a great, world family.
Elizabeth Barnes has exhibited works in SC, NC, Fl, GA, AL. Has received awards at Augusta University, USC Aiken, Aiken Center for the Arts, Aiken Art Guild, Rose Hill Arts Center, and most recently the North Augusta Arts and Heritage Center.
She is incredibly excited to be one out of more than 1000 artists selected to participate in the 2023 ArtFields competition.