Artisans on the Square features locals

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, August 2, 2022

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Artisans on the Square in Greenville is offering a special exhibition inspired by nineteenth century experimentation, which led to the development of modern photography.

LaGrange artists Ann Beason and Merri Lawrence are featured and will be at the opening reception Saturday Aug. 6 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Named Silver Linings, the exhibit will be on display until Oct. 15.

Looking for a silver lining to the pandemic, two friends and lifelong artists, Ann Beason and Merri Lawrence found inspiration in a centuries old technique begun by William Henry Fox Talbot (1800 – 1877). By fixing a light-reflected image on paper treated with silver-iodide,

Talbot produced what he termed a calotype from the Greek meaning “beautiful image.” In effect

Talbot created a negative image that could be converted into a positive one, thereby allowing it

to be replicated, unlike the earlier and sharper daguerreotype, which was unique. This was a pioneering move toward a more versatile photography and the product is known today as a photogram.

According to the press release, benefiting from the mentoring of Merri’s husband and professional photographer, Professor John Lawrence, Beason and Lawrence began in 2020 to experiment with a process analogous to that of Talbot. Using silver-based paper and choosing a variety of organic materials with interesting shapes and transparency, they have produced hauntingly beautiful photograms from simple natural forms that might otherwise be overlooked or tossed aside.

Reflecting on the work, Beason likened the images to traditional botanical prints and drawings of plants and flowers. They echo, as well she notes, the elegant simplicity of Japanese flower arrangements, which often focus on a single blossom. Essential to the project, moreover, was working with Lawrence as a “creative partner” in a common effort to master a process demanding patience and attention to detail.

Lawrence credits the project with encouraging her to slow down. During the forced isolation of the pandemic, she paid more attention to her surroundings, be it in her own backyard, the beach or the woods. Even though she had long been a gardener, she acquired a new appreciation for seasonal rhythms and came to appreciate more fully the ordinary, even invasive species and noxious weeds. But being able to work with Beason lent joy to an otherwise solitary endeavor.

Artisans on the Square is located at 397 LaGrange St on the NW corner of Court Square in downtown Greenville. Gallery hours are Thurs – Sat, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information and online sales, visit our website Linda Glenn Wilburn (404) 398-1328.