JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The Johns Creek Arts Center knows art is in the eye of the beholder – so why not put the art where people can behold it?
That is why the JCAC has partnered with Emory Johns Creek Hospital to display the art of Columbia “Sissy” Saffell in her solo show, “An Artist’s Journey,” at Emory Johns Creek. The one-woman show runs until Aug. 31.
Arts Center Executive Director Stuart Miller said the purpose of bringing Saffell’s art to Emory Johns Creek is to give local artists exposure and to bring art to the public.
“We want to give the people of Johns Creek a chance to encounter art – promote the artist’s work and at the same time make it accessible to the public. So we are partnering with Emory Johns Creek who have been so gracious as to let us have this space.”
Indeed, the hospital has allowed the use of a meeting room and hall, large enough to hold 19 of Saffell’s paintings.
Emory allows the organization to use the space, but this is the first time it has featured just one artist.
“She has achieved a great body of work,” said Miller. “We wanted the opportunity to show an audience just how great.”
Saffell, who is both a member and instructor at the Arts Center, said she has been cutting out things and coloring since she was a little girl.
When she went off to the University of Alabama she had decided to major in home economics, but that notion ended at end of the first semester.
“I changed my major to art. That was a big step for me. Back then you could not make a living as an ‘artist-artist,’ so I also got an education degree,” she said.
She said the best advice about becoming an artist was when she was in a modeling class.
“My professor said pick three media to work with. And then he said don’t draw the model, just give the essence of the model,” Saffell said.
“That put me on the path. It resonated with me. It was the best advice I ever got and I still try to follow it every time I paint.”
Saffell says it is still important to teach students the basics.
She calls herself a “process artist.” That is for those looking for the end result of whatever process she uses. That often means using more than a brush.
“I like to explore with a lot of different processes – try different things,” she said. “I have to admit some of my stuff is a little funky.”
Photographic art is “OK” with Saffell, but she likes abstract art.
“When you do photographic art and you paint a duck, all I think about is the duck. I like art that inspires me and challenges me to think more deeply.”
She likes to cut out images and incorporate them into her pictures.
One of her most interesting works, “Heading West,” has the image of a Hopi Indian on horseback she cut out and painted over. The rider is riding away from the viewer, obviously headed west.
The colors are vibrant, yet you still see the image of the rider on some quest or search. It does start the viewer to thinking – what did Saffell mean?
Of course the answer is, “What does it mean to you?”
Saffell’s work will be on display through Aug. 31. The hours are virtually any time because the hospital does not close.