Southern artists work exhibited at the Fuel and Lumber Company

Southern artists work exhibited at the Fuel and Lumber Company

“Future More Vivid” by Jered Sprecher. Photo courtesy of Jered Sprecher.

Sam West

“Hither and Yon” is a new exhibit at the Fuel and Lumber Company gallery in Downtown Birmingham that attempts to reckon with a modern situation—the internet age and its assault of jumbled together images, ideas, and content. The gallery is a collection of the work of four contemporary artists, all of whom have some connection with the Southeast.

“I think there are different formal relationships between the works, the way they look, things that resonate from one artist to another,” said Astri Snodgrass, a painter featured in the exhibit. “But I think we’re all kind of interested in contemporary image culture, and what it means to make a physical object and a physical image.”

Snodgrass attended graduate school at the University of Alabama and has studied abroad in both Norway and Argentina. Her works are paintings made on masking tape that are suggestive of both photography and collage.

To produce one of her pieces, Snodgrass paints onto a sheet of paper, then lays tape over that surface. Upon peeling the tape back, she has the mirror image of the original painting. The artist will also occasionally recycle pieces of previous works into new images. 

Snodgrass considers textiles, which she grew up surrounded by, to be a big influence on her work, as well.

Jered Sprecher is another painter whose work is being shown in “Hither and Yon.” Sprecher’s pieces are all derived from a stock photo of seagulls that  he once found on a family photo album. The artist altered, changed and abstracted this image in each one of these paintings.

“It comes from this idea of sort of cutting, pasting, sampling things and recombining them. It’s sort of like Frankenstein, in combining these sometimes disparate parts,” he said.

Not all the work featured at “Hither and Yon” is two dimensional. Sculptures by Jane Fox Hipple, an artist who lives and works in Montgomery, are also included in the exhibit.

Hipple uses a lot of found material in her art, such as rocks, bricks, concrete blocks and pieces of wood. The final form of her sculptures isn’t planned out, but comes through experimentation.

“It’s usually a response to material, and entering into a conversation with material not really with any expectation,” Hipple said. “And it’s in the process of responding to materials, making marks, [and] trying things next to each other that the concept and ideas and content are derived.”

The artist said her works are often responses to both events in her personal life and the greater cultural moment in the South and the country as a whole. Hipple is particularly interested in issues of race and gender, which is why many of her works feature colors evocative of the female form such as pink and purple.

The exhibit will also feature the work of Craig Drennen, whose sculptures and paintings are all inspired by “Timon of Athens,” an obscure Shakespearean play. The drama is one of Shakespeare’s lesser regarded works, which Drennen chose to adapt into art because few others had done so.

“Timon of Athens” is a corrupted text of indeterminate history, questionable sources, and a dubious relationship to the respected canon,” said Drennen in a statement on his website. “That is to say, it mirrors my own position in the art world perfectly.”

Drennen’s work is both striking and varied. Many of his pieces are painted collages that include recognizable images. Others, however, are conceptual pieces, and some even drift into the realm of performance art.