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Cantrell's Spirited Vision is at Sumter County Gallery of Art

Artistic spirit, creative process infuses painting

BY IVY MOORE
Features contributor
Posted 11/2/19

The Sumter County Gallery of Art will present a solo exhibition by former Sumter resident and artist Carolita Cantrell, opening Thursday, Nov. 7. Cantrell, formerly Harvin, is accomplished in many media, including paint, sculpture, wax, pastel and …

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Cantrell's Spirited Vision is at Sumter County Gallery of Art

Artistic spirit, creative process infuses painting

Posted

The Sumter County Gallery of Art will present a solo exhibition by former Sumter resident and artist Carolita Cantrell, opening Thursday, Nov. 7. Cantrell, formerly Harvin, is accomplished in many media, including paint, sculpture, wax, pastel and watercolor. Her exhibition titled Spirited Vision will comprise primarily paintings.

SCGA Director Karen Watson has known Cantrell for many years and admires her enthusiasm, curiosity, sense of adventure and engagement with the world around her. She said, "Cantrell is a true artistic spirit dedicated and immersed in her practice. Making art is one of the most important aspects of her life."

"Making art is all I've ever done," Cantrell said in her artist statement. "Since the age of three when I was given permission to draw instead of nap, I have been doing it ever since in some form . I am in love with the creative process, no matter what form it takes, and I hope my love for this kind of creative adventure shows in my work. Art for me is like breathing. I cannot imagine not doing it.

"My work keeps evolving - it is a living thing. When I paint now, I proceed much like the novelist who says he /she starts with an inspiration, but soon the characters take on a life of their own and go another way. Soon after I begin the painting starts telling me where it wants to go, and I just get out of the way of let the work find its own voice and speak for itself."

Cantrell studied art at the New York Academy of Art under Bruce Dorfman, the University of South Carolina and the Atlanta Art Institute. At USC, she studied under Boyd Saunders, Philip Mullen and J. Bardin, who told her, "Don't try to be different for the sake of being different; be good and that will be different enough."

After leaving Sumter in the mid-1980s, Cantrell lived in Columbia and Banner Elk, N.C., before moving to the West Indies for 11 years. The island influence prompted her to explore abstraction, and the mysticism prominent there is also evident in much of her current work.

Cantrell's work has been included in many solo and group exhibitions, including a solo exhibition of her silks at the Sumter County Gallery of Art in 2008. She has won many awards including a Best in Show and two Purchase awards. She has been represented in a variety of galleries, including Verve Gallery, Columbia; The Art Cellar, Banner Elk, N.C.; The Twisted Laurel Gallery, Spruce Pine, N.C.; Fish or Cut Bait Gallery, Edisto Island; as well as several galleries in Nevis, West Indies, and Europe.

Cantrell paints almost exclusively in oil, usually while listening to classical music on NPR. References to historical art movements such as Surrealism, Expressionism and Byzantine iconography can be seen in her work.

Watson noted that "As with everything the Sumter County Gallery of Art does, this exhibition is a community effort. Special thanks to our sponsors, Stifel Investment Services and Elmore Hill McCreight Funeral Home and Crematory. And thanks to the Sumter County Gallery of Art Board of Directors. Flowers are courtesy of Azalea Garden Club and The Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter.

Carolita Cantrell's exhibition titled Spirited Vision will open Thursday with a 5:30-to-7:30 p.m. reception at the Sumter County Gallery of Art, 200 Hasell St. The exhibition can be seen in the gallery through Jan. 10, 2020. For more information, call (803) 775-0543 or visit https://sumtergallery.com.