Waterworks art exhibit lets multiple generations ponder side by side

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, August 23, 2023

SALISBURY — Over the summer, Waterworks Visual Arts Center has been providing people the freedom to venture off among both familiar and unknown settings through art, exploring at their own pace.

The “Nature Connects Us” exhibit has been going on since June and will end on Sept. 1, allowing anyone who has not seen it yet an opportunity to encounter these realistic, escapist art pieces that have personal origins for those who created them.

The objective of “Nature Connects Us” is to underline nature and the “natural world’s” universal and intricate influence on a vast number of concepts that continues to mystify. North Carolina-based artists Sarah Booze, Natalia Leigh and Cathy Johnson Sigmon each distinctly convene their work at Waterworks in order to indicate nature as a catalyst for what the world was and could be.

Natalia Leigh was born in Europe and has been living in the United States for nearly 20 years and has practiced oil painting for over 30 years. Leigh uses a black canvas for much of her work to better convey her hopefulness for life with nature playing a role in her paintings.

“She’s put some American symbolism in her art,” Membership and Outreach Coordinator Diana Cummings said. Cummings refers to the COVID medicine and toilet paper in some of her paintings on display that brings out memories of a time some people have not gotten over yet.

Sarah Booze is from the North Carolina foothills and has taught herself how to skillfully produce stunning and faithful depictions of the environment she knows so well. Paintings of rolling hills, clear waters and shade to stretch out in let families who visit the exhibit reminisce about where things matter most to them.

“Fathers and sons and grandfathers found their fishing spot in this gallery. They were so sure that this artist had found their fishing spot,” Cummings said. “Everybody felt like they had been to these places.”

Another North Carolina native, Cathy Johnson Sigmon, has let nature contribute to the kind of art she makes in a remarkable way. The classic rock band Three Dog Night’s song “Joy to the World” has a prominent presence in the exhibit as it plays in one of the rooms and its lyrics are written on the walls. With that legendary opening, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog” people who grew up with the song and kids hearing it for the first time can experience the song together.

“We’ve had a lot of kids come in with their grandparents and they’ll turn their phones on, I’ve seen grandparents and kids singing and dancing,” Cummings said.

Cummings describes the exhibit as being “very family-friendly.” Waterworks provides visitors with a “search see & sketch” with 12 questions on it encouraging people to study and truly know as much of the art as they can.

“I love seeing older siblings helping the young siblings with the see and sketch. They spend a lot of time weaving in and out of the gallery trying to find the answers to the questions. It causes them to look a little deeper into the pictures,” Cummings said.

“Nature Connects Us” has been successful in its attempt to get these North Carolina artists to share their thoughts and emotions on how significant nature has been to them and to everyone else on Earth. It can be difficult to get this message across, but the response to the exhibit itself demonstrates its effectiveness.

“There’s something for everybody when they come in and I think a lot of our exhibits are diverse that way. It’s not always easy for a child to interpret, but the show has been easy for a child to interpret. It was a good one for the summer,” Cummings said.