Sylvia Pickell: Yes, I Do Need Them All and Jacqueline Kern: Dollhouse Dreams & Abstractions
November 9th, 2023 through January 5th, 2024
Sylvia Pickell is a long-time resident of Sumter and is deeply involved in her community of theatre and art. Pickell is a seamstress, embroiderer, quilter and fiber artist in the traditional manner. She learned to stitch at age 10 when she joined the 4-H club. She taught herself to quilt during the 1980 quilt revival so that she could send her oldest daughter to college with a handmade bed cover. Traditional quilts came to be considered art after the 1989 Whitney Museum of Art exhibit of vintage Amish quilts. It was an auspicious opportunity for many fiber artists whose work had previously gone unrecognized.
During the 80s and 90s, Pickell entered competitions, traveling throughout the states teaching classes, giving lectures, writing for quilt magazine and books. She became a Certified Quilt Judge and Certified Quilt Appraiser. Pickell’s works and designs have been published extensively; several quilts are in prominent collections. My Baltimore Album style quilt toured for 2 years with the Museum of American Folk Art and My first Art quilt “Escape from Circle City” is in the collection of the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY.
From 1994 until 2013, Pickell was employed as a bookkeeper for a local manufacturing company. She was also the full-time costume and props designer for the Sumter Little Theatre. She had little time to create artistic quilts and worried whether she would ever get back to her art. She really missed the works that I had sold or given away. When Pickell retired and was able to start stitching again, she refused to sell her quilts, disappointing many in our community. After 10 years of making and ‘hoarding’ art she had accumulated quite a stack, so she recently decided it was time to offer some of her quilts for sale. Sylvia takes care of seven cats so ‘Yes, I DO need them all” is something she can say about quilts and cats.
Pickell, who Lachance calls a renaissance woman with years of experience in the arts, is an active member of the Sumter Artists’ Guild and her work has won three Best of Show/First Place awards, and she still volunteers at the Sumter Little Theatre. She says that “It is exhilarating to share my love of textiles with others. I am grateful to the Sumter County Gallery of Art for this exhibition.
ARTIST STATEMENT: As a fiber artist I incorporate a combination of texture, color and stitching to create my work. I have been sewing and collecting textiles for 60 years and have a large collection known by fabricholics as “stash”. I enjoy mixing and updating a variety of periods. In my younger days I enjoyed hand needlework spending hours on a project. As I grew older, I found short cuts to creating fiber art – less precisely cut, pieced, appliquéd, hand sewn traditional and more random cut, raw edge machine stitched quilts. The pieces chosen for this exhibition reflect my love of multiple textiles and techniques.
Jacqueline “Jackie” Kern, Ph.D. is a professional who is creative and detail oriented—artist, former educator and adjunct professor, published author, designer, and home stager, and Administrative Director for the John Kern Realty Group at Keller Williams. She has exhibited extensively in Florida.
Kern received her BFA in painting/drawing from State University of NY, and her Ph.D. in Teaching/Learning from the University of North Dakota.
In addition to teaching visual arts grades K-8, Kern has held several university administrative positions in Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Continuing Education. In her many administrative roles, she has performed recruitment activities, academically advised and mentored students in various degree programs, facilitated learning accommodations for students with disabilities, and coordinated student learning and social activities to shape their educative and community experience.
Kern’s creative process revolves around lines, quirky forms, and vibrant colors, and the spontaneous interplay they create within the composition.
Eric Lachance, SCGA Curator notes, “Jacqueline Kern’s work resonates in a human space we have grown to inhabit: the boundary between childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Through her Dollhouse series, the viewer is invited to identify facets of gender, fed via advertising, through a child’s perspective. In Kern’s abstracts, there is unease and beauty—an overlap as individual and intangible as that transition into “adulthood”.
ARTIST STATEMENT: My artworks center around dollhouse and abstract natural themes. The dollhouse artworks symbolize the complexities of social dynamics, emotions, and at times, even traumatic experiences within the concept of the home. In my abstract artworks, I explore natural forms either found in the world around us or from my imagination.
As individuals, we are shaped by our childhood experiences. As a child, I would come home from school and use my chalkboard to teach my imaginary class. I would also don my artist’s smock and create works of art in my “studio” (my childhood bedroom) while listening to Top 40 tunes and thinking to myself, “You’re good!” These moments strengthened my confidence and propelled my studies of the visual arts even when my environment did not support my talent or career choice. The cultural influences of the 60s, 70s, and 80s fueled my fascination with the gender roles prevalent during those eras. I was acutely aware of societal expectations regarding femininity and masculinity. Being constantly reminded to “act like a lady” left a lasting impression on me. I looked up to and listened closely to the adults in my life, seeking cues on how to behave, dress, and communicate.
While my dollhouse artworks reflect the rules of polite society, embedded cultural and gender beliefs, and childhood trauma, my abstract artworks express complete freedom from having to perform, please, and seek approval. My artistic language is inspired by living organisms. I draw upon direct observations or intuitive imagery from my mind to guide my work. The forms I incorporate often evoke thoughts of fertility, seeds, stones, plants, marine life, and figures like goddesses, angels, and mothers. My dollhouse imagery may evoke nostalgia for the pop culture of the 60s, and early 70s while serving as a stage for human dramas and personal baggage, filled with furniture, props, and symbolic elements. The abstract artworks serve my artistic inner child expressing pure creativity, encompassing imagery from the natural and fantasy world. I believe all these symbols themselves transcend time.
We could not do what we do without the support of our members and our community. Special thanks to our signature sponsors, FTC and The Andrew D. Zalkin Fund for Visual and Performing Art of Central Carolina Community Foundation, and for the ongoing support of Sumter County Government, the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Williams Brice Edwards Charitable Trust. Flowers courtesy of Azalea Garden Club and the Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter.