If you are planning a visit to the Allegheny rivers’ hidden gem, Foxburg this summer, don’t forget to stop by the local artists’ cooperative at the Red Brick Gallery on main street. The upstairs gallery will display Taylor Banner’s thought-provoking Mixed Media collages and the ethereal Botanical Sculptures of Amanda Lewis. Their art exhibit will run on weekends between Friday, May 20 and Sunday, June 26. The Meet the Artist Reception will be on Sunday, May 22 at the Red Brick Gallery from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The art exhibit will immediately be following the 2:00 PM Clark Wilson concert - The McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer with an original score to the famous silent film ”The Freshmen” starring Harold Lloyd and other musical selections at Lincoln hall. The 2022 season Gallery Hours are Fridays 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Saturdays 11:00 PM –7:00 PM, and Sundays 12:00 noon – 5:00 PM.
Taylor Banner is an artist and educator from Clarion, PA. She received her BS in Art Education from Edinboro University and has continued pursuing her exploration of the fine arts through studio courses at Clarion University.
Currently, Taylor is the Vice President of the Clarion County Arts Council and the visual arts teacher at Clarion Elementary School.
Taylor Banner’s comments on her art background are as follows, “As an artist and educator, I enjoy working with a range of mediums and applications but I am most drawn to collage, mixed media and fibers. I find inspiration for my mixed media work in vintage and found imagery, as well as family photographs. Each picture captures a brief moment in time and carries with it a fragment of a life story. Working with collage allows me to create layered surfaces that rewrite that narrative and tell a new, imagined history.”
Taylor goes on to say “My recent digital work reflects upon issues of emotion, identity and human conventions. These works were heavily influenced by the collective isolation and uncertainty of the past few years, coupled with my personal introspection. These digital collages strive to explore the disconnect between our private and public selves. This struggle often presents as who we are being at odds with what we project to others.”
Amanda Lewis is a botanical sculptor. She grew up in Walhonding, Ohio. Her mother is an avid gardener and she instilled in her a love of flowers and other plants. Amanda’s father is an artist who fostered her interest in making things creatively. Her parents encouraged her to pursue an art education and she received a scholarship to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design. She earned a BFA in fine art in 2003, focusing on ceramics. In Columbus she learned the basics of developing clay bodies and glazes while broadening her skills in sculpture and traditional pottery. She then spent 2 years earning an MFA in ceramics from Kent State University. Amanda’s thesis show consisted of imaginary botanical forms inspired by her favorite plants and sculpted using traditional ceramic clay and glazes.
After college, Amanda got married and moved to Clarion, Pa. She made functional pottery for several years and continually used decorative elements, often derived from flower shapes, to embellish her work. As she got more intricate with her sculptural efforts, she grew frustrated with the limitations of traditional clay and the fragility of the finished pieces.
When she had her first daughter in 2014, Amanda became interested in using an airdry clay called cold porcelain. The clay is made using glue and cornstarch as its main ingredients.
Because the material is used much more in other countries such as Japan, she had to research the material online and learn the best recipes and techniques by watching YouTube videos. She quickly became enthralled with this new medium. It was cleaner and easier to do in the home but best of all she could realistically sculpt her delicate plants and flowers and the final piece would be much less breakable than a comparable ceramic piece. She stopped doing functional pottery and went fully into sculpting plants and flowers. She began a business named Petal by Amanda Lewis. Find her at petal.indiemade.com and on Facebook. She makes a variety of work from single flowers to bouquets to dioramas, as well as jewelry inspired by local plants and also does online tutorials explaining her techniques. Currently she is exploring the potential of other materials such as crepe paper in creating life-like botanical forms.