Claudia Wilburn to Exhibit Solo Show at Renaissance Gallery, Downtown Gainesville on the Square

Opening Reception: April 20th 6-8 PM – Renaissance Gallery, Downtown Gainesville on the Square (On the Historic Gainesville ART WALK Circuit
ARTIST TALK: MAY 4th, 2023 at 6PM – Renaissance Gallery- Downtown on the Square – 106 Spring Street, Gainesville, GA. 30501.

Claudia Wilburn will be having a solo exhibition titled, Navigate by Reckoning consisting of mixed media works held at the Renaissance Gallery located on the downtown square in the Renaissance Center Building at 106 Spring Street, Gainesville, GA. 30501.

Navigate by Reckoning is a solo exhibition of mixed media works created by artist and educator, Claudia Wilburn. Through an autobiographical lens and the element of oral history, Wilburn’s work exposes personal life experiences, emotional journeys, and memorabilia.

 Wilburn’s larger works combine various media such as digital prints, found objects, acrylic paint, relief printing and encaustic transfers, while others begin as black line woodblock prints, imprinted onto different types of paper and collaged back together into a unified image on panel.

Ethel Almond Roberts, (Wilburn), 1894-1932, altered print on panel 36 x 24 inches

The story of Wilburn’s grandparents, who she knew personally, unfolds in each intriguing piece. However, since their passing, their history has now become an oral one, told at family gatherings and other social occasions. Many of these stories are simple, some dramatic and some complicated; interwoven in memory as complex evolving tales told around the family table. These intricate visual investigations serve as a material translation of these histories, and use ephemeral source material as a way to 

bring the transitory biography – passed back and forth between family members – into a fixed pictorial realm.

Duke Franklin Creech, 1890 – 1978, altered print on panel, 36 x 24 inches

Wilburn has researched branches of her family tree from the present to the Revolutionary War and back to the Old World, where photographic portraits of her great-grandparents have been used as references.

The source photos that have been damaged or lack specific details require Wilburn to use secondary, period-correct source images and artifacts to help realize the image. In the source photo for the work, Ethel Almond Roberts (Wilburn), 1894-1932, The portrait of her has a soft focus, and the details of the Victorian Mourning Garments with their black, velvety texture are unclear. To assist Wilburn with filling in the surface and pattern of the clothing, she used similar garments from an appropriate time period and with a similar style from the Brenau University Historic Clothing Collection as a model for the missing details of the dress.

As the generations progress back in history, hard sources will fall by the wayside, pushing Wilburn to rely only on other sources such as a historic clothing collection, cultural ideas or records and archived materials to complete her work.

The facts on the census ledger only reveals the basic facts of the individual, where the stories and legends contained in a spoken narrative reveal the person. In this way, with a combination of facts and shared general histories the subject no longer belongs simply to Wilburn or her family. Rather, they become a touchstone that can be a part of everyone’s story.

Wilburn’s hope is that when observing her work, viewers are reminded of their own historical connection and forebears, and that shared stories connect us all.

Claudia Wilburn takes a final look at her work, above, during the installation of her solo exhibition, to be held at Renaissance Gallery in downtown Gainesville on the square.

Claudia Wilburn is a mixed-media artist currently living in Northeastern Georgia and teaching as an Associate Professor at Brenau University where she is the Department Chair for Art & Design and Director for the Center for the Arts & Design. She received her Masters of Fine Art from the University of South Carolina and her BFA from Clemson University.

 Wilburn grew up in the Low country of South Carolina and has lived throughout the South. Her work centers on the connections, paths, family and community present in the Southeastern American experience. Wilburn’s academic research has been presented internationally and exhibited throughout the US.

The Master’s in Teaching Award was awarded to Wilburn by Featherbone Communiversity, as well as the Master’s in Teaching Award and the Ann Austin Johnson Outstanding Faculty Award at Brenau University. She also won Best in Show at the The RoadShow Exhibition held at Arts Illiana Gallery in Terre Haute, Indiana, and Best in Show at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, GA.

 Wilburn has co-curated an exhibition of prints created at Rolling Stone Press from the Brenau Permanent Collection at the Sellers Gallery at Brenau University in conjunction with the SGC conference in Atlanta, GA where she also presented a talk on the Rolling Stone Press and the work of Wayne Kline, Master Printer. She also presented art-based research on cemetery figures at the Death, Art &Anatomy Conference, hosted by Winchester University in Winchester, England.