New Waterworks exhibit, “Worth a Thousand Words,” inspires individual narratives and collective connections

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 14, 2023

SALISBURY — A picture, or in some cases, a piece of art, is worth a thousand words. The smallest choice an artist makes can affect a viewer in completely unpredictable or even indescribable ways. 

This is not to say that between pictures and words one is inherently better than the other, or even to pit them against each other at all. Instead, as well proven by the artists of this exhibition, the pairing of images and narratives provides one the chance of creating something exceptionally moving, intriguing and interactive. The three artists in this exhibit each showcase their own version of art telling a story. 

While there is often a desire to let art speak for itself, or at least to let it speak for the artist and their intentions, the pieces shown in “Worth a Thousand Words” inspire something different. Viewers can lose themselves in the art and create their own narratives to surround each work, then investigate the artist’s intentions. 

Ashleigh Coleman uses photographs, snapshots of her life, to highlight not only the mundane and the extraordinary, but also how the two interact. Each picture emphasizes the small things, the details that lead the viewer on a journey through different possibilities and explanations of what lead to the exact moment the photo was taken. 

Through her immersive installations, Jane Cheek explores feelings of happiness and belonging, especially as they relate to nostalgia and memory. Her work celebrates finding solace in one’s own environment, as well as having empathy and understanding for others. Her installation invites viewers to explore both her work and their own memories that may be brought to the surface, and her interactive piece encourages participants to reflect on those memories.

Dori Settles used the phrase “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” as the inspiration for her glass recreations of significant shoes from the lives of friends, family and strangers. Each shoe holds great importance to someone in the world, and therefore serves as a chance to understand others, embrace imperfection, and celebrate connection.

In their own ways, the work of these artists encourages the individuality of personal interpretation, but also the community created by decency and compassion. Each piece has the potential to serve as a connection between the artist and the viewer, the viewer and the subject, and all viewers with one another. 

A “meet the artists” and opening reception for “Worth a Thousand Words” will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, at Waterworks Visual Arts Center, 123 Liberty Street in Salisbury. Spirits and light refreshments will be served. No admission is charged. Waterworks Visual Arts Center is grateful to our art partners and visionaries: North Carolina Arts Council, city of Salisbury, Rowan County, Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation, Margaret C. Woodson Foundation, Salisbury-Rowan Community Foundation, Friends of Rowan, F&M Bank, SALCOA Contracting, Inc., Debbie Lucas and Rick Lucas, Susan and Edward Norvell, David Post, Marianna and David Swaim, and Anderson Dental Group.

The exhibit will run from Sept. 9-Dec. 30. Gallery hours are Monday–Friday, 10 a.m–5 p.m; Saturday, 10 a.m. a.m -2 p.m. Walk-in, self-guided tours are welcome during gallery hours. Groups may arrange a guided tour of the exhibitions by calling 704-636-1882 at least two weeks before requested tour.