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Alchemy in art

For students interested in the latest art at VSU, the Fine Arts Gallery is currently hosting “Alchemical Narratives,” an exhibition by painter, Virginia Derryberry, which began Sept. 20 and runs through Oct. 8.
The artist will also be visiting the gallery today at 5:30 p.m. to discuss some of her work and answer questions.
In keeping with one of Derryberry’s main objectives as an artist, the gallery features large oil on canvas paintings that allow the viewer to temporarily check out from reality and escape to an otherworldly place.
Although the narratives of her paintings are inspired from mythology, she is mainly concerned with creating a place that interacts with the viewer, luring them in.
“When I’m in my studio and when I’m painting these large images, it’s almost as if I’m making a virtual world that I feel like I could walk into and walk out of,” Derryberry said. “I guess I’m more interested in almost the space that I’m creating and the viewer to be a part of it.”
All of the figures seen in the paintings are somehow connected to the artist’s life, whether it’s a family member, friend, or former student, as she is also a professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
According to Derryberry, the connectivity adds to the concept of keeping the subject matter in the present.
Strolling through the exhibit, one can feel the vibe of a historical-like presence incorporated with the contemporary, which offers quite a different experience.
“I think her work is fantastic—it is beautifully painted, thought provoking, and on a heroic scale,” Julie Bowland, professor and Fine Arts gallery director, said.
Junior fine arts major, Hannah McVey, liked the paintings and thought they were very unique.
“You can definitely tell she uses a lot of the same people and the same emotions throughout,” McVey said. “The colors are nice—they’re bright and she definitely uses cool colors to make things stand out…I thought it rather interesting, the different perspectives.”
The paintings don’t necessarily carry a specific message, but are left open for interpretation by the viewer.
“More and more, what I try to do is give the viewer multiple readings that are possible.” Derryberry said.
The artist’s upcoming talk in the gallery is open to the public and free of charge.
Bowland said Derryberry was unable to make the opening reception since she lives in North Carolina, but she expects the gallery to be packed with people who will want to see the artist herself.
Anyone who wants to take a peek at “Alchemical Narratives” can drop by the gallery Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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