Press Release for the Exhibition
FAYETTEVILLE, NC—A new exhibition, "Exotic Encounters," opens Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the David McCune International Art Gallery in the Bethune Center for Visual Arts at Methodist University. The show features paintings from the safaris of artist Paula Fitzpatrick, an active member of The Cape Fear Studios in Fayetteville.
There will be an opening reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the gallery on Sept. 19, which is free and open to the public. Afterward, the exhibit will run through Oct. 24 during regular gallery hours. This semester, the gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday. There is no cost to visit the gallery.
For many years, Fitzpatrick has been painting African animals that she observed in private parks and public zoos, but in 2004 she visited Kenya and Tanzania to see the animals in their natural habitat. She took her art supplies with her, and returned with inspiring memories. From that trip, the works in "Exotic Encounters" were born.
"After returning home with visions of animal herds walking through my head as I slept, I began a new style of animal paintings," she said. "The landscape played a more important part of the design than previously. As the collection grows the animals have become a smaller part of the artwork, with emphasis on portraying the place and emotion of the moment I am remembering."
Wildlife has been the most prominent feature in Fitzpatrick's artwork for many years. Her love of the outdoors and animals has promoted her active involvement with many non-profit and wildlife organizations.
"As I paint I can still recall the air, smells and the excitement of being just feet away from a phenomenal creature that still invokes excitement," Fitzpatrick said. "Emotion often dictates the manner in which portray I a specific subject. I want you to feel the tension, excitement, and sheer joy as I still feel it."
Fitzpatrick has been exhibiting professionally since 1982. She received her bachelor's degree from Appalachian State University, and a Master of Arts in teaching from the University of South Carolina and two years of post-graduate studio art. She taught for 12 years before changing her career to a full-time artist.
"I was thrilled to be asked to show my work in the new art museum at Methodist University," she said. "I have participated in many exhibits over the years, but this will be my first solo museum exhibition. I met Professor Silvana Foti at Cape Fear Studios, where she became familiar with my work several years ago."
Foti, the executive director of the McCune Gallery, said that Fitzpatrick's safari exhibit is a great introductory show to bring students to experience the gallery. A few of the paintings were on display at the African-themed President's International Student Welcome Dinner the week before the exhibit opens. Because MU has students from many parts of Africa on campus, Foti said she hopes the exhibit will be especially interesting to international students, who may see the images as welcomingly familiar rather than exotic.
"Her pieces are playful, colorful, and filled with the gorgeous life of the African savanna," Foti said. "It's an attractive show and a lot of people will enjoy the subject matter. It's geared to a vast audience."
Methodist University is an independent four-year institution of higher education with over 2,400 students from 41 states and 53 countries. Methodist University offers over 80 majors and concentrations, 100 clubs and organizations, four master's degree programs, and 19 NCAA III intercollegiate sports. For more information, please visit davidmccunegallery.org, or paulafitzpatrick.com.
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