The Black Belt not just rich in its soil

Published 8:55pm Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A woman actually sewed pine needles into ornaments and designs and a man across the room from her weaved kudzu vines into baskets. The creativity that was shown during this weekend’s Black Belt Art Explosion Studio Tour not only demonstrates how connected our local artists are with the area, but also that they know how to make something we all love — scenes of life from the Black Belt — seem even more beautiful.

On Saturday, though a chilly breeze arrived in town that morning, many came out to jump from studio-to-studio around Selma and Dallas County. There were 13 locations on the tour that hit a majority of the art mediums, including some that are purely local, like the pine needle creations by Maxine Hopkins we just mentioned.

Chip and Laura Spencer opened their studio and home up to visitors who wanted to view someone create cold-pressed soap out in Marion Junction.

In the Arts Revive building on Church Street, several artists were setup to show their talents.

Among those were Andrew McCall from Lowndes County who tamed kudzu, a pest that grows wild through our region. As he sat in the Arts Revive building among piles of dried kudzu vines, he wrapped them up for visitors into baskets that looked so whimsical Tim Burton could have created them.

In the Harmony Club David Hurlbut casted plaster gargoyles while his friend, Julian Helms, was just down the street in her home with her paintings and homemade jams and jellies.

Our rich Black Belt cultivates all sorts of fresh agriculture and produce, but this simple way of life combined with our rich history in the area, cultivate a new form of art that is unique. The art in the Black Belt is inspired by other styles around the U.S. and around the world, but it has its own twist of humility and character.

The arts are reviving and thriving and well in our area. Despite the tough economic times we face, we still have the magic of art to cling to and take pride in here in Selma. We can also smile that our art forms will continue to evolve for years to come.

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