By Al Hansen
Crossville has done it again! For those who haven't realized how this town is gaining a reputation for its cultural depth and talent, you better head to the Shanks Center for the Arts. At 140 N. Main St., there is now a special exhibit from area photographers. The smash hit, however, is a large selection of varied art work by Camilla Emerson.
This show is the work of an extraordinarily versatile artist. Take for example "Safe in Her Arms" in oil-relief appears sculpted out of faux alabaster. Here an angel lifts a child into the heavens, her hair and gown floating in air. You can hardly help but capture a feeling of love as she rises.
Emerson has filled the walls of the Shanks Warehouse Gallery, where visitors will find paintings that look like stained glass. They are, however, watercolor works that seem to glow from within.
One piece that stands out is "The Dressmaker," in the manner of the French Impressionists. According to the artist, her idea arose from memories of her mother, a talented dress designer and seamstress. Emerson remembers trips to fabric shops as a child, full of colors and textures that filled her world of feeling and imagination. She visualized putting a lovely garment together on paper and has done so in this soft and emotional painting, by using her own mother's dress patterns to create art.
In a trip to France to visit a granddaughter and her mother's ancestral roots, Camilla, with her husband, Jim, became inspired to create her "Mi Mi" series of everyday French life — cafes, galleries, gardens, bakeries, fields of purple lavender and yellow mustard, lots of flowers and lots of hats. She started painting striking ink resist pieces that look like woodcut prints. From these, she progressed to painting on 100-percent silk scarves, then wall pieces and lamp shades, as well as the wearable art. Be sure to check those out, too.
Emerson sees life as an artist sees it — and loves it. You will, too, if you take in this ambitious and lovely exhibit, but it ends Saturday, June 29.
The Shanks Center for the Arts at 140 N. Main St. is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It can also be reached at 787-1936 or www.shankscenter.org — or friend them on Facebook. Maybe it should be called "Crossville — Center for the Arts." It's definitely looking that way.