Written by Beverly Knight for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal
"Spartan’scapes," an exhibit of works by Andrew Blanchard, opened July 1 and continues at the Chapman Culture Center’s Guild Gallery (Spartanburg, South Carolina) through July 29.
Blanchard, Assistant Professor of Printmaking and Photography at Converse College, is a native of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. In the three years he has lived in Spartanburg, he has become fascinated with the landscape and the towns, saying of Spartanburg that it is a "diverse habitat (that) is perfect fuel for a visual enthusiast such as myself."
Blanchard finds beauty in aged storefronts, porch stoops, mill remains, churches and bars, making these the subjects of his work. "Spartan’scapes," he said, is "more of a mirror-like documentary than an attempt to artistically render scenes of our town by way of formal design elements. Simply put, what you see is what you get."
This series of Spartanburg-based images screenprinted on mounted wood panels presents glimpses of downtown, Hampton Heights, Beaumont village, the Southside – all neighborhoods that remind Blanchard of his Mississippi upbringing.
"Within these tight-knit communities lie generations of historical context, and on their fringes rest secrets, folklore and even one of the most poignant aspects of Southern life – the truth," Blanchard said of his inspiration for his work.
At a young age, the artist became fascinated with the bold, curvilinear woodcuts of another Gulf Coast native, Walter Anderson. From this early inspiration, he established his love for printmaking. Blanchard earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2000 with an emphasis in printmaking and a minor in photography. Then he traveled to Paris to work, study and learn the photolithography process with Frederic Possot, a master lithography printer. In 2004, he earned his masters of fine arts degree from The University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.
In the past three years, Blanchard has been included in and won awards for his lithographic/photo silk screen combination prints in more than two dozen national and international juried printmaking exhibitions. "I hope this body of work inspires all who see it to act on documenting your favorite Spartan’scape, for it may be gone tomorrow," Blanchard said.
Information compiled by Beverly Knight for the Artists Guild of Spartanburg.