BMCA artist brings attention to climate change through metaphorical art

Special to Black Mountain News
An example of Sullivan's art using an iPad draws attention to the beauty of the natural world while making the viewer recognize that something isn't quite right.

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is happy to welcome Alabama artist Wanda Sullivan to the Upper Gallery for a show titled Synthetic Naturals.

The show opens April 1 with an artist’s reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and runs through April 29. The Upper Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Wanda's work was like no other artist's submission,” said BMCA Executive Director Lori Cozzi. “Our gallery selection committee typically focuses on regional artists, but we immediately recognized the uniqueness of her work, and we were mesmerized by her images. I am intrigued not only by her use of manipulated digital imagery combined with paint, but also by her environmental message. This is a show like no other hosted at BMCA.”

Sullivan is a professor at small, historic Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, the state’s oldest institution of higher learning. She is also the director of the college’s Eichold Gallery. She photographs natural elements, predominantly flowers, through a kaleidoscope app on her iPad. By altering the image of natural materials through the lens of technology, she mimics what is essentially taking place in our world.

“My paintings are conceptually based on a concern for climate change,” Sullivan said. “Intellectually, I am looking at ways of blending technology with traditional painting methods. For my current body of work, Synthetic Naturals, I am photographing natural elements, predominantly flowers, through various apps on my iPad. Technology is changing our climate and our landscapes. I contrast the perfect, measured symmetry of my computer-assisted designs with painterly, atmospheric layers of paint. I see these paintings as visual metaphors for climate change. My paintings are intentionally beautiful, but the message is ominous. Although our world is still beautiful, all is not right. Climate change is often invisible, but it is very real.”

Sullivan received her MFA in painting from the University of Mississippi in 1990. She exhibits her work nationally in competitions, galleries and museums such as the Hollins University Eleanor D. Wilson Museum in Roanoke, Virginia, the Wichita Center for the Arts in Wichita, Kansas, the Santa Clara University Gallery in Santa Clara, California and the Xavier University Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio, to name a few. In 2016, she received the Dawson Research Award for Excellence in Scholarship at Spring Hill College and in 2010 the Mobile Arts Council named Sullivan Artist of the Year in the Annual Greater Mobile Arts Awards.

“The Blue Ridge Mountains are very special to my family,” Sullivan said. “We love everything about Black Mountain and Asheville. I'm so excited and honored to be showing in the Upper Gallery.”

The Upper Gallery at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts is located at 225 W. State Street. For more information about Synthetic Naturals visit blackmountainarts.org or call 828-669-0930.