A giant rhinoceros painting, a soft scultpure that depicts King Louis XIV, and old, rusted objects that hang from her work -- this is what viewers can expect to see at the newest exhibit at Spiva set to debut tomorrow. Linda Mitchell’s “Memory, Fantasy, Mystery” will be at the art center from Jan. 8 to Feb. 20.  

The show’s title is intended to evoke the viewer’s own memories, the fantasy associated with the pieces and the mystery of what will happen next, said Jo Mueller, Spiva director.

Mitchell used mixed media in her art to convey her main theme: Environmental concerns, Mueller said. The Atlanta based artist said she used a variety of materials that range from pieces of wood to fabric and glass, that help bring her work to life.

“The thing I find most valuable about this kind of show is I really like to make my connection and feel for the emotional concept that I’m going through,” Mitchell said in a recent telephone interview. “And (the viewer is) touched by the pieces...that’s the whole point.”  

Mitchell worked intuitively, and layered materials and images in highly textured works that brought her background in painting and sculpture into play, according to a Spiva news release. The mixed media she used, combined with the animals in her work, help to tell complex stories.  

“I usually work with animal imagery; they’re the characters and the narrative,” she said. “And it’s not that you have to know the story. You usually feel some emotional content in the pieces.”

Mueller said she also worked with two distinct ideas in this show: Trash and beauty.

Mitchell said her soft sculpture of King Louis XIV, entitled “Too Much Will Never Be Enough,” is meant to catapult the reader into a reflective state and consider the way we live our lives.

She said she began work on the sculpture after travelling around France and took the scenes she saw to an emotional level.

“I started thinking about our lives and the way we acquire things,” she said. “There is so much you want to accomplish and do in your life.”

And this is one piece that helps the viewer catch a glimpses of the artist’s inner world. Concerns for social equality and global survival shine through her pieces and aim to affect the viewer to consider environmental issues. African animals, which represent the ever-vanishing natural world, appear in several of the paintings, linking the push and pull of history and change, according to Mitchell’s promotional material.

“There’s so much going on in each one of Mitchell’s pieces,” Mueller said, while walking through the gallery. “It’s an exhibit where each piece can tell a story and the viewer is going to bring as much as themselves to that story. The more you look at (the pieces,) the more connections you are going to make perhaps to your own life.”

Mueller said the exhibition committee chose to showcase Mitchell’s work at this time because of the expected 1,000 third grade students who will visit the art center.

Mitchell, aware of the young students who will view her work, said, “The animals do kind of touch the child within you.” She said even if the students do not grasp the concept, she is glad that they will be exposed to the material.  

Spiva has also welcomed local artists Gary Adamson and Herndon and Ruth Snider.

Gary Adamson’s exhibit “Apples and Oranges” is a gallery devoted mainly to watercolor and pastel pieces.

Herndon and Ruth Snider’s exhibit, “Festiva D’Arte” will feature paintings from the Snider’s get-aways, particularly in Italy, according to a Spiva press release. The exihibt will run through Jan. 30. 

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