Published: Nov 09, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Nov 07, 2011 06:42 PM
The Inuit myth of the maiden Sedna ends gruesomely.
After being thrown out of a boat by her father, Sedna tries to get back in, only to have her father cut off all her fingers. Sedna sinks to the sea's bottom, and her severed fingers morph into the fish, seals, whales and marine life.
Eight pieces of artwork, four by Amelia Roberts and four by Matt Kohr, illustrating snippets of this myth are on exhibit through Nov. 30 at Caffé Driade at 1215 E. Franklin St.
Roberts' favorite is a piece called "Beluga." It shows five of Sedna's severed fingertips giving rise to Beluga whales. Three white whales are fully formed on the tan paper and two are still emerging.
"The fingers are rendered in a more realistic and lifelike way, whereas the whales have a ghostlike quality," said Roberts, who works at Driade. "I was trying to navigate the line between unreal and real, which is the central thing about myth, navigating your suspension of disbelief."
Kohr and Roberts, who work side-by-side in their Chapel Hill in-home studio, met while they were students at the Savannah College of Art and Design. This show is their first collaboration.
Roberts paints with hand-held media, including guache and graphite. Kohr draws and paints with a computer. He is a freelance illustrator in the game industry and operates an digital painting instruction website, ctrlpaint.com
"Essentially this means I have found a way to get paid to stay at home and draw dragons," Kohr said.
To unify their diverse methods, they used something they learned in college.
"We made a reference file, which is done in the commercial art industry," Roberts said. "An art director often does a style guide to establish a direction to move in. So in some ways here I was acting as art director."
The references included photos of Inuit people and the landscapes that dominate their lives. Kohr said they took inspiration from two Gustav Klimt paintings.
Roberts chose the myth to build the artwork around because she has always been drawn to mythology, especially that of Native Americans. She was especially drawn to the myth of Sedna partly because of the story's relationship to a landscape of ice, water, and chilly wind.
"I grew up on Nantucket where one is always close to the ocean," she said. "It was impossible to take for granted, but a lot of the time you didn't notice it. You can hear it, smell it, or see it wherever you go on the island. If you were bored, happy, sad, you went to the beach."
As they worked, the couple critiqued each other's work.
They also had to work to make sure each artist's work complemented that of the other.
"I was worried that the hues of the blues and violets in my work was not quite in accord with the colors he was using," Roberts said.
Since Kohr works digitally, he was able to shift his color scheme more easily.
It would be delightful if in the future Roberts and Kohr added to these eight pieces, which bring to life only a small part of Sedna's sad tale, and illustrated the whole myth. The show leaves the viewer wanting more.