George Memorial Library in Richmond announces the opening of a special exhibit, “Art I Become,” on Sunday, January 6, in the Bohachevsky Gallery of the library.
The exhibit, which showcases the artwork of Claire Payne and her daughters Kathryn Payne Bright and Terri Payne-Bieber, will be on display through February 28.
Claire Payne and her daughters all discovered and explored their passion for art through their own personal life-journeys. As often happens, the journeys took them through good times as well as bad, and art gave them a means to survive, conquer, and rejoice in the celebration and joy of life.
Many of these life-battles are reflected in their work – both on canvas and in the poetic lines of verse.
“When confronting hardships along my path, I started to turn to art as a way to express my disappointment, feelings of rejection, confusion, and dismay,” says Terri Payne-Bieber. “I found I could separate myself from negative feelings, and in an act of self-expression, I could extrude those bad feelings out of myself and directly onto canvas.”
Payne-Bieber admits that these paintings were not pretty, but they were a visual depiction of the physical and emotional pain and turmoil that she was battling.
“These paintings were dark, but this overall process made my spirit feel lighter, and in that lightness, I could move on,” added Payne-Bieber. “This process would eventually lead me to dive deeply into a wonderful career in art and social service.”
She and her sister, Kathryn Payne Bright, credit their forays into artistic expression to their mother’s love of art. Throughout her daughters’ childhoods, Claire encouraged them to have fun with art as a means to discover their own personal identities.
“She showed me that creating art is a personal journey to connect your self to your soul – and that’s something you do for yourself, not for other people,” explains Payne-Bieber. “Expressive art is fun and, to this day, a refreshing lifesaver in turbulent times!”
Kathryn Payne Bright is the poet of the family, but she also finds satisfaction in expressing herself through mixed-media collages.
The joy the women found in artistic expression would help each one of them through personal struggles they encountered in their lives. It was the death of her husband, Pat, that led Claire to turn to art as a means to deal with the sense of grief and loss that she felt. Watercolor is her favorite medium, but she also enjoys trying her hand at collage and abstract textures.
“Painting on different surfaces is a happy new challenge each time,” says Claire. “You will see watercolor on paper, on a synthetic surface called YUPO, on clay board, and gesso surfaces.”
Claire’s work has been accepted into international juried shows as well as the International Society of Experimental Art. She has been recognized at the Watercolor Art Society-Houston, and she has won numerous 1st-place awards in local art-league shows.
A cancer survivor, Payne-Bieber found physical and emotional healing through her artwork. As an extension of the healing process, Payne-Bieber was inspired to share that gift with others who were experiencing personal battles or troubling times. In 2003, she founded ARTreach as a means to bring arts to underserved communities in Fort Bend County, such as children at risk, victims of crime, and children and adults with special needs.
The exhibit may be viewed during regular library hours. For more information, call the library system’s Communications Office at 281-633-4734.