A Photograph of Wayne Henderson by Cameron Davidson.
A Photograph of Wayne Henderson by Cameron Davidson.

The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Art will host a Gallery Opening and Reception for Photographer Cameron Davidson and Artisan Terry Clark. Friday, October 21 from 6 pm – 8 pm.

Cameron Davidson’s passion for photography took root in his teens when he found an old Agfa Isolette camera at the bottom of his closet and began looking at life through a lens. It blossomed further, when he discovered the contours and contrasts of a world measured by altitude and sheer natural beauty from the rear cabin of a turbine helicopter. This latest exhibition will celebrate Virginia Luthiers and we invite you to come and enjoy the evening as we host a reception for Cameron and Terry.

For more than thirty years, Cameron developed the artistic skills that have helped him to become an acclaimed aerial, environmental, editorial, corporate, and fine art photographer. Simplicity and elegance make his work transcendent. He has photographed locations and people in 49 states, 6 Canadian provinces, and 29 countries. His compelling aerial images of North American landscapes and cities have graced the pages of publications ranging from National Geographic to The Washington Post. His six books – Chesapeake; Washington DC from Above; Chicago from Above; A Moment of Silence: Arlington National Cemetery; Over Florida; and Our Nation’s Capital: An Aerial Portrait – embed character and personality into the grandest and simplest photos. His eye for the visual has opened boardroom doors to many premier corporate assignments, including annual reports, as well as high-profile editorial venues. A partial list of his clients include ESPN, Money, Audubon, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Wired, Vanity Fair, AARP, Dominion Resources, General Dynamics, M&T Bank, Virginia Tourism, SEIU, Standard Life, and some of the top advertising agencies in the world. To find out more about Cameron, visit his website.

Terry's Shop is located in Grayson County.
Terry’s Shop is located in Grayson County.

 

Terry Clark has gone through periods of producing items that are considered functional and true “crafts;” he is now producing objects that, while still performing a function, depend as much on “art” as on that function for definition. In either mode, Clark requires of his work that it be well made, that it be pleasing to the eye and heart of the viewer, and that it be accessible to the public. He says his immediate goal is “to refine my style of steampunk lamp making, and tap into what appears to be a fairly good market. To save all the reel-type lawnmowers in America I will know I have ‘made it’ when I start having consistent sales and a couple places of ‘notoriety’ want to have my work on their shelves.”

“I have to make things.” I enjoy working with my hands; I enjoy designing things. I enjoy looking at something and seeing what it is [now] and what it can be. What gets my juices flowing is designing something in my head and then making it a reality. It’s exciting to think through an idea and then – without putting much or anything on paper – making it a working object.

Going to antiques malls and junk stores and recycling yards, and looking at stuff posted on Pinterest, and looking through on-line hardware companies’ inventories… inspires me. Just like going through my lumber room. Places like that are resources and not just for the materials, but also for ideas and possibilities. Just because something looks like a lawn mower wheel doesn’t mean it’s a lawn mower wheel; just because it’s a 2×4 doesn’t mean it’s only a 2×4.

My experience at Berea College was an important influence. There, I was surrounded by people who accepted the idea that each of us can make things that please us; that it is valuable to make a life based on creative work. I realized that it is possible to have a worklife based on making and selling. Those are powerful ideas that many people in our society are never exposed to. I learned to have high standards, and I learned the importance of living in community with other people who are doing similar work and to bounce ideas off them and feed each other’s excitement.

This is from a news release in 2014,

TROUTDALE – It’s exciting for an artisan to push the boundaries of his skill and creativity.

Terry Clark has been involved in crafts for a long time, now. He began building things out of wood when he was just a kid, and he moved from hammered-together cars and boats to high school shop class, to design classes in college, to overseeing the college woodworking studio, to his own studio here in Grayson County. Along the way he’s moved from making small home accessories to crafting fine traditional furniture to concentrating on turned objects.

“I guess this is the most different thing I’ve done in a long time,” Clark said about his latest endeavor.

That endeavor is an array of lighting fixtures on display in his shop in Troutdale.  The new lamps and fixtures that line some of the shelves in his shop, Three Peaks Crafts (named for the mountains behind the shop), are definitely different from Clark’s earlier, traditional lamps that are also on display there.

It is fair to say they are quirky. Almost every lamp has beautiful hardwood parts that are a clear continuation of Clark’s work over the past 40 yeas, but most of the rest of them were once parts of something else: old reel-type lawn mowers, hand tools, kitchen gadgets, plumbing fixtures… 50-year old hot water heaters?

“Yeah, that piece right there”, Clark says, pointing to the body of a free-standing floor lamp, “was attached to my mother-in-law’s water heater for more than 50 years. It finally gave out a few months ago, and when we disassembled it to get it out of her basement, I saw an opportunity.”

Clark “parted out” the old heater and wound up with two – or four, depending on how he uses the pieces – outdoor flower planters for his wife, two cut-off valves, several lengths of galvanized pipe, various fittings, and scrap metal for recycling. “One of the great things about these pieces is, they have the patina of their years on them,” he said. That sheen of long use, or even layers of red rust, show that the thing has been used; it has a history, one that’s involved work and usefulness and that shows our industrial history.

“They’re like some old ‘salt’ who has lived by the sea all his life and his face is all lined and rugged and his hands are knotted up from his work. You can tell he’s real.

“These parts I’m salvaging are real. They’re not just off-the-shelf pieces picked up at a hardware store. They tell the story of who we were, and who we are.”

Clark’s new style of work can be categorized as “steam punk.” This term was first applied only to literature, when it named a sub-genre that grew out of science fiction. Now it’s used to indicate any artistic style that incorporates bits of the early industrial flourishes of the Victorian era and/or Art Nouveau, or references to literary fantasy or horror, etc. For Clark, part of the fun is the departure from the classic style he’s maintained over 45 years. “The sky’s the limit,” he said, “With these lamps, I can do whatever I want to do.”

There is also a mechanical aspect that appeals to Clark. Always a tinkerer and a handyman, he studied mechanical drawing on his way to the BS in Industrial Arts he earned from Berea College. “I like solving the problems of wiring and connecting,” he said. “Every time I build a lamp, the mechanics are similar but different. It’s a challenge to figure out how to get a wire through all those twists and turns without tearing it up.

“And I have always loved figuring out how things move and connect and can push and pull.”

An example of this is the “Rube Goldberg” hanging lamp in his showroom. A twisted antique-reproduction electrical cord (for safety reasons, Clark uses only new power cords and outlets) runs from an outlet to a wooden strip on the wall, that reaches to above-shoulder height. From the top of the strip, the cord emerges to lie up and over a hand-turned pulley on a wooden arm that extends 30 inches into the room. The cord dives through the arm to go around another pulley, then sails up through the arm to circle yet another pulley, and finally jumps off the end of the arm to connect to a light bulb dangling below. The shade for this light is a slightly rusty kitchen colander.

The bulb’s distance from the floor can be adjusted by releasing a multi-piece wooden handle on the wall-mounted strip, but “all those pulleys really don’t do anything to make the light work better,” Clark said. “I just wanted to incorporate movement and humor into the thing. This is a way of bringing together my skills as a woodturner, my knowledge of electrical connections, and my fascination with mechanics.”

While it’s exciting for an artisan to move ahead, it can be exciting for his audience, too, to have new and different works available to see and enjoy, and perhaps to purchase and display in their homes. “Customers often ask me what I’m doing that’s new, and this is really new and different. You know, not only do I like making these new items and exploring this new style, but just doing that, just shaking up my ideas, means that the turning that I do now is different and better, too.”

Buying customers and those who simply want to see Terry Clark’s new work can visit his shop on Highway 16 in Troutdale (Better call to make sure he’ll be in.)To find out more about Terry Clark and his wonderful craftsmanship, visit this site.