"I Am What I Am," by Fay Samimi, of Ormond Beach. Photo by Jarleene Almenas
Ormond Beach Observer
Can art heal?
A current exhibition of contemporary art by the seasoned artist group, Beaux Arts of Central Florida, at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach explores that theme through works in a variety of mediums aiming to inspire thought and relief from daily stressors. A stroll through the gallery showcases artwork by Beaux Arts' 50 professional artists, several of which are local to Volusia and Flagler County.
According to a press release by the museum, the exhibition "might be a welcome antidote for these times of physical and mental stress."
For abstract artist Peter Cerreta, of Palm Coast, art gives him the means to illustrate the emotions that he feels are existent today: Love, fear, hate and anger. Though he was trained as a realist painter at the Pratt Institute in New York, he discovered that an abstract approach to art allows him the ability to capture feelings with greater latitude through the use of distortion. He paints women most of the time; he attributes this to the death of his mother and a couple of years ago, his daughter.
“Healing, is quite honestly a look into yourself — as an artist, as a person — and it’s a relief of frustrations," Cerreta said. "It’s a relief of your immediate concerns and your fears.”
One of his paintings on display at MOAS, located at 352 S. Nova Road, is titled "A Young Woman," and depicts a coming-of-age scene with a woman with flaming red hair.
If a person can identify with something in an art piece, they will project their feelings onto the piece of work, he said. Oftentimes, it is not what the artist intended, but to Cerrata, it is interesting nonetheless. He enjoys talking about art, and holds degrees in both art and psychology.
“They parallel each other beautifully, because it gave me the ability to understand better human behavior, especially the emotions expressed by human beings," he said.
'It's like running'
Art can generate all sorts of emotions, said Ormond Beach artist Robert Shirk. For artists, creating pieces can be calming.
Shirk creates figurative paintings with layered plexiglass, and because of the detail involved, sometimes he finds himself going into a meditative state in the process. It's like running, Shirk said.
"If you’re a runner or a distance swimmer, you hit that wall and once you hit that wall, things just become easier and your mind kind of wanders, and you don’t feel a lot of the stress and the pain of enduring that physical activity," Shirk said. "I think the same thing can happen with art, with creating art.”
On display at MOAS is his art piece titled, "Volto Musica," illustrating a venetian carnival mask. The piece was supposed to be displayed at Stetson University this summer, but due to COVID-19, that exhibition was canceled. He'd been working on it for a while, having always wanted to paint something like it. When Beaux Arts was scheduled to display art at MOAS, he knew this was the piece he wanted to exhibit.
This exhibit is one of the highlights of Beaux Arts' schedule, Shirk said. The artists all put their best artwork on show.
Art is powerful
Instead of tubes of paint, Port Orange artist Jane Jennings has over 3,000 pieces of fabric in her studio.
“Whereas a painter would have tubes of paint, those are like my tubes of fabric," Jennings said.
She works with Indonesian cotton batik fabrics and most recently, created a new technique for her art: Digitally printing images on cotton and silk organza. One of her pieces created this way is on display at MOAS, titled "The Shadow Caster."
Jennings said she was impressed by the choice of title for the exhibition. Art has always been an outlet for her, though she can't put into words what it makes her feel like. She learned how to paint at six years old from her father. He set up a small easel next to his, she recalls.
The Beaux Arts group is comprised of exceptional art professionals, she said, and she believes the exhibition could be a great diversion from people to escape from the current feelings of fear, depression and isolation due to the coronavirus.
“I’ve always believed in the healing power of art, whether it’s the creator or the viewer," Jennings said. "I think that art is such a very powerful mode of communication.”