South­ern ICON

Print­maker shows work at Ox­ford Col­lege

The Covington News - - Sunday living - By Jenny Thompson

At first glance, Boyd Saun­ders etch­ing “The Great House” ap­pears to be a fairly in­nocu­ous il­lus­tra­tion of a large, white plan­ta­tion.

How­ever, a closer look re­veals weeds and vines crawl­ing across the lawn, the once-gen­teel balustrades crum­bling from the roof and goats munch­ing on the over­growth or perch­ing atop an old Buick.

Saun­ders said a news story he once saw de­scribed a mas­sacre at a church in Rwanda where mon­keys had moved in and lived among the slaugh­tered. He said “The Great House” echoes that story al­though the sub­ject in his work is a vic­tim of ne­glect rather than vi­o­lence.

“I wanted to do a show that was the­mat­i­cally tied to­gether,” Saun­ders said.

The theme of Saun­ders’ ex­hibit— which con­tains mostly etch­ings, some acrylic paint­ings, lith­o­graphs, mixed me­dia and a to­ken wa­ter color and pas­tel — is “Re­turn of theWan­derer.”

“The cen­tral idea is of a per­son wan­der­ing through life and af­ter a long time com­ing back to where he grew up,” Saun­ders said.

He ex­plained how he ad­mires the work of au­thor William Faulkner. Faulkner left his Mis­sis­sippi home to write in Paris and then in New Or­leans be­fore an ac­quain­tance told him to go back home and write about what he knew.

“I’m con­vinced he would not have been as suc­cess­ful if he had never left it,” Saun­ders said.

Saun­ders, now print­mak­ing de­part­ment head at the Univer­sity of South Carolina, grew up on a farm in Ten­nessee. He said al­though he strays from it for some­times years at a time, he goes back and is al­ways amazed at the flood of mem­o­ries and emo­tions the spot brings.

“I even­tu­ally re­al­ized, my fam­ily doesn’t own the land,” Saun­ders said. “The land owns us.”

While his work de­picts mostly scenes of the agrar­ian South such as beach homes, gas sta­tions and other coun­try lo­cales, close in­spec­tions show a much quirkier look at the deep south.

Con­trast­ing the muted and del­i­cate com­po­si­tion of the dichro­matic “Great House,” is the vi­brant and be­witch­ing “The Vixen”— dom­i­nated by a phos­pho­res­cent stream and shield­ing a fox-like crea­ture in the thick un­der­brush.

Many of Saun­ders’ pieces de­pict an over­whelm­ing sense of de­ser­tion and de­cay, such as “The Evan­ge­list”— afa­vorite of Camille Cot­trell, Ox­ford vis­ual arts pro­fes­sor, for­mer stu­dent of Saun­ders and or­ga­nizer of the ex­hi­bi­tion.

“What I loved about it is, tech­ni­cally it’s very hard to do,” Cot­trell said.

Saun­ders uses the 15th Cen­tury In­taglio Pro­cesses for his etch­ings, which in­volves burn­ing images into a cop­per or zinc plate with ni­tric acid, then han­drub­bing ink into the in­cised lines and run­ning the plate through a press.

Mul­ti­ple col­ored prints re­quire sep­a­rate plates for each color.

Saun­ders said he of­ten takes a pho­to­graph of things such as a dog or box­car he wants to in­sert into his work.

“They’re not pic­tures of things that ex­ist in re­al­ity,” Saun­ders said. “In that sense I’m like a fiction writer.”

The gothic bell tower of Ox­ford’s Seney Hall im­pressed Saun­ders and he said it may one day make it into one of his pieces.

His mixed me­dia piece “Thren­ody for He­roes and Dreams” is a sort of col­lage of a pic­ture of aWorldWar II fighter pilot, frag­ments of a cal­en­dar, a Repub­lic P-47 Thun­der­bolt and cracked rem­nants of a shell­fish meal.

The sol­dier in the pic­ture hap­pens to be Cot­trell’s fa­ther.

“The pic­ture used to hang in my stu­dio,” Cot­trell said.

Saun­ders took the photo and vis­ually re­counted the story of howCot­trell’s fa­ther­was trapped in Ja­panese ter­ri­tory, found a plane and flew to Java. One boat left Java be­fore Ja­panese forces ar­rived, but un­for­tu­nately sank off of the coast of Aus­tralia.

The com­man­der of the ves­sel and Cot­trell’s fa­ther were the only sur­vivors. He re­ceived a Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Medal, which is also shown in Saun­ders’ “Thren­ody.”

Cot­trell said any­one in­ter­ested in art should come to see the ex­hibit, pre­sented by the Arts As­so­ci­a­tion in New­ton County, which lasts through Fe­bru­ary at Ox­ford Col­lege’s Can­dler Hall.

She said his work has been dis­played in Paris, Venice and The Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art in New York.

“You can see it right here in Ox­ford,” Cot­trell said.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

The ex­hibit: Ox­ford Col­lege As­so­ci­ate Dean of Aca­demic Af­fairs Ken An­der­son, right, and wife Meredith An­der­son dis­cuss a litho­graph ti­tled “The Prodi­gal”, right, which was printed by Boyd Saun­ders from slabs of Bavar­ian lime­stone, dur­ing the open­ing night cel­e­bra­tion for the South­ern Iconog­ra­phy in Print­mak­ing Ex­hibit at Ox­ford Col­lege Thurs­day evening.

Pho­tos by Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

The artist: Artist Boyd Saun­ders, left, min­gles with Jay Lan­ners, Judy Car­pen­ter and Lu­cas Car­pen­ter dur­ing the open­ing night re­cep­tion of the South­ern Iconog­ra­phy in Print­mak­ing ex­hibit which fea­tures a variety of the artist’s work com­piled in a vis­ual poem ti­tled “The Wan­derer Re­turns.” The ex­hibit, pre­sented by the Arts As­so­ci­a­tion in New­ton County, is open to the pub­lic for free through Feb. 29 in the Can­dler Stu­dent Cen­ter at Ox­ford Col­lege.

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