Hotel Indigo hosts contemporary Kentuck artist's work

Hotel Indigo hosts contemporary Kentuck artist's work
Photo courtesy of Beth Conklin

By Caroline Smith | Staff Reporter 

Artist Beth Conklin’s digitally-created work, with its horror movie imagery and creepy details, mix nostalgic subjects with modern technique.

Currently, Conklin has an exhibit on display at the Hotel Indigo Gallery that will be showing until Feb. 23. Admission is free to the public.

“I take vintage photographs, scan or drop them into Photoshop, and add color and texture and layers of other objects to create a digital photo collage,” Conklin said. “Once complete, I print out the collage and mount it to a cradled wood panel."

Conklin graduated from The University of Alabama in 1996 with a degree in mechanical engineering. After some time living in various places around the country such as Houston, TX, and Charlotte, NC, she returned home to Birmingham. 

“Her work is a little dark and very intriguing,” said Exa Skinner, Kentuck’s program manager. “Because many of the photographs are of children, there is a certain innocence to her work that is reminiscent of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.”

She bases all of her pieces on quotes from different books, songs, poems, letters and speeches. In this way, she connects her art with the art of others, evoking all sorts of emotions with a single work of art. 

“My current works exhibited at Hotel Indigo are digital collage pieces created using old photographs,” Conklin said. “Old meets new in a dreamy and dark landscape.”

Nathan Andrew, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, emphasized the dark nature of her art.

“It makes me feel intimidated and very creeped out,” Andrew said. “Her artwork looks like something out of a horror show.”

Her images are often very gothic, but optimistic at the same time. They provoke conflicting emotions and keep the mind occupied.

Skinner believes the art particularly resonates with students because of its modern flair.

“Computer-based art is very big right now, as technology has become so accessible,” Skinner said. “Though Kentuck often represents self-taught, folk, outsider and visionary arts, we also value and welcome contemporary art. Students may connect with this work more than they would with other shows because it is more contemporary.”

Conklin encouraged students to visit with something different in mind.

“I would encourage students to see the exhibit to experience something different in how they relate to vintage photographs,” said Conklin. “Come see the stories behind the faces. Most works relate to a book quote or song lyric that inspired the piece; come see if you can guess which book or song.”

Conklin also had some words of wisdom for students who are pursuing a career in art.

“The best advice I can give a student trying to make a career with their art is to make what they want to make; don’t try to manufacture what they think will be popular,” Conklin said. “If it truly comes from the heart it will be their best art.”

Interested readers can meet Conklin and view her work the upcoming Art Night at Kentuck Art Center on Feb. 1. The event is also free and open to the public.

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