Stress and Pressure on display at Upstairs Artspace

Published 10:00 pm Monday, April 25, 2016

Stress Series 11, Washed Up Bark, by Linda Williams McCune

Stress Series 11, Washed Up Bark, by Linda Williams McCune

In an increasingly complex and Internet-driven world, every available moment is flooded with information. Sensationalist exaggeration blurs the line between the factual and the false. Little wonder, then, that anxiety hovers just beneath the surface of most daily routine.


When the distraction of our culture’s pervasive online existence begins to loosen one’s grip on reality, there are those who make their way to solid ground by facing these overwrought times head-on and using art as a means to make sense of it. Two new exhibits open Saturday, April 30, at the Upstairs Artspace that offer various means for confronting the challenges inherent in contemporary life.

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Comprising an even decade of recent print works, the exhibit “Women Under Pressure” plays with the double meaning of living in a time of stress, as well as referencing a technological process with which to confront it. Printmaking requires the application of physical pressure in order to extract an image.


Curated by senior BFA Converse student and Upstairs Artspace intern Caren Stansell, “Women Under Pressure: Converse Alumnae Printmakers” encompasses graphic related visuals created by nine women graduates of the studio art-printmaking department at Converse College.


As one of the requirements for her Studio Art Internship class, Caren was charged with facilitating a concept for an exhibition for which she would have full responsibility. With her interest of contemporary printmaking in the upstate/foothills region, as well as her familiarity with a large contingency of highly successful, recent peers, Caren fused together her love of promoting women artists along with the inky medium of her preference.


“Women Under Pressure” features Converse College alumnae Jamie Bunney, Katy Butler, Carly Drew, Mandy Ferguson, Elena Hernandez-Rubio, sisters Hailey Hodge and Victoria Hodge, Rosetta Nesbitt, and Jasmine Sanders. All are former students of artist and Converse professor Andrew Blanchard, who will be exhibiting one work in the show; and several have studied with fellow exhibiting artist Linda McCune.


“Linda Williams McCune: Stress Series” is a display of intricately drawn images on paper by the Greenville Technical College fine arts professor. Her work comes out of the hectic life of women who feel overcommitted and overwhelmed.


The Stress Series drawings describe this tension in a foreshortened and oppressively closed spatial context using obsessive line work, all of which offers little promise of escape. But, paradoxically for the artist, the very act of working in this way is what relieves her stress.


Both of these exhibits serve to demonstrate that visual images can adequately reflect the complexity of strained emotional states.


These two exhibits will remain on display at the Upstairs through June 9. There will be a reception for the artists Saturday, April 30, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. All events are free and open to the public and are made possible through generous grants from the Polk County Community Foundation and the Mary F. Kessler Fund, as well as the North Carolina Council for the Arts.


Individual sponsors for this exhibit include Susan Brady, Mary Prioleau, Victoria Sharp and Alexia Timberlake-Boyd.


The Upstairs Artspace is located at 49 S. Trade Street in Tryon. For more information, phone 828-859-2828 or visit the website at


-Submitted by Tom Madison