The evolution of Whimziggy: Artistic duo exhibits at Catawba College

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 23, 2015

By Susan Shinn

For The Salisbury Post

Emily Brinskelle and Meredith Abramson could have easily drifted apart. But the art teachers and best friends continue to make art together for their whimsical business known as Whimziggy Art.

“Whimziggy is a constant evolution,” Meredith says. “We have that creative spirit, and desire to do something new.”

That “something new” is painting on pieces of found wood, from lakes, oceans, old barns.

Meredith’s parents have a lake home, she says, “and my dad started pulling out driftwood from the lake. I couldn’t paint on canvas anymore. We were on the hunt for wood.”

“Odd wood is now calling our names,” Emily says.

Longtime Whimziggy fans might remember the jewelry, T-shirts and children’s art Emily and Meredith have created over the years. Now they’re recreating Whimziggy into something altogether different.

They’ve retrieved wood from the South Carolina Low Country, St. Helena Island and Ocracoke Island, among other places.

The two have transformed the driftwood into darling signs that seem to be all the rage these days.

“Every little piece has a story,” says Meredith, a 1996 graduate of Catawba. “We can tell you where the wood comes from.”

And they’ll be happy to do that on Sunday, August 30, at an opening reception for an exhibit of their artwork, in the Corriher-Linn-Black Library on the Catawba College campus. The reception takes place from 2 to 4 p.m.

The exhibit fits well into the college’s emphasis on sustainability, according to Tonia Black-Gold, Catawba’s communications officer.

“We were talking about art and alumni,” Black-Gold says, “and we thought this exhibit would be a fun thing. Our students would see how approachable art can be.”

“And you can share your art with someone else,” Emily points out. “We are not solo artists.”

Getting together to paint has become a bit more of a challenge after Emily and her family moved to Burlington in February 2014.

“This summer, we realized the drive really wasn’t that bad,” Emily says, “and we went back and forth to paint.”

“With almost every single piece, we had full-on collaboration,” Meredith notes. “This is my favorite part of the evolution of Whimziggy.”

The duo also likes the fact that this phase of their art is part of the repurposing movement many artists are embracing.

For example, Emily rescued a friend’s guitar cases that were on the way to Goodwill. With the Whimziggy touch, they’re now funky decorative accessories.

Also on display are fun little driftwood houses the women turned vertically and decorated and voila — another cool piece of art was born.

“It’s fun, folky, whimsical and colorful,” Meredith says of their art.

Before her move, Emily taught art at Erwin Middle School, a position Meredith took over after teaching for a couple of years at Rowan County Early College. She’s found the middle-school job better suits her two girls’ schedules.

And it suits her schedule to create more art with Emily.

Pieces in the exhibit range in price from $10 to $120. At the reception, Meredith and Emily will also have Whimziggy T-shirts priced to sell.

“With this exhibit,” Meredith says, “we want to show people that art is approachable and accessible.”

The Whimziggy exhibit is on display now through Oct. 2 at Corriher-Linn-Black Library on the Catawba College campus.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.