Censored Art Exhibit: An Interview with Amanda Ladymon By: Mary Catherine Ballou  

censored Opening on Friday, June Third at Frame of Mind Gallery, Censored showcases pieces by local artists inspired by social media’s impact on body image.  Curated by visual artist Amanda Ladymon, in conjunction with photographer Jim Dukes, Censored challenges and questions the influence of technology-drenched culture on body perception, revealed through various mediums and perspectives.  Contributing artists include Jarid Lyfe Brown, Jim Dukes, Diana Farfan, Alejandro Garcia-Lemos, Jennifer Hill, Julie Jacobson, Michael Krajewski, Amanda Ladymon, and Whitney LeJeune.  Ladymon, a local artist, educator, writer, parent, and owner of Ladybug Art Studios, kindly agreed to share her insight on the motives behind Censored.


Jasper: What was the impetus for creating the Censored exhibit?

Ladymon: “Some photos of my semi-nude three-year-old daughter were reported by an unknown Facebook friend, which temporarily shut down my account.  I was shocked and confused by this (because let's face it - children all look exactly the same from the waist up when they're that young - we all have nipples and a belly button) - but also quite amused! … While my photos were not in violation of the [Facebook] policy, it left me really puzzled, why are Americans so uptight about the human body?!  And even further, why are Americans so uptight about things that they may not relate to or understand?!  My friend and fellow Artist Jim Dukes and I immediately started messaging and talking with each other about what had happened and the spark for a group art exhibition happened … Together we compiled a list of artists we had either exhibited with previously or artists I had worked with on exhibitions … I have the great privilege of knowing so many amazing artists and it was easy to find a handful of willing participants whom would appreciate our vision.”


Jasper: What role does Jim Dukes play in the event?

Ladymon: “He's sort of my right hand man.  He helped me construct the mission statement for the show, he has brainstormed frequently with me, done some photo shoots, and created the fantastic Exhibition Image for Facebook.”


Jasper: How do you think people will react to this exhibit?

Ladymon: “I anticipate it's going to be a mixed bag - some may be shocked, some might laugh, and some might be disgusted.  Overall I just hope it makes people stop and think about how social media has controlled and shaped our way of thinking in the 21st century.”


Censored highlights the different perceptions regarding the human body.  Ladymon reflects on the “veil over everything”, connoting ubiquitous filters and Photo-shopped images.  An exhibit that one will not likely forget, Censored forces viewers to question their own perspectives as well as prevailing societal norms. It also confirms the universal impulse to explore, highlight, and celebrate the wonders of the human form.  Censored will be available for viewing at Frame of Mind, 140 State St., West Columbia, through the last week of July, with tentative plans for a closing reception and panel discussion.  Free and open to the public, this event is restricted to an 18 and older audience.

S&S Art Supply Pays It Forward with 3rd Annual Silent Auction & Fundraiser


Artwork up for auction from Nancy Marine

Continuing to pay it forward, S&S Art Supply on Main Street is hosting its 3rd annual fundraiser this coming Sat.urday, July 13th, benefiting Palmetto Place Children's Shelter.   Free and open to the public, there will be a silent auction of over 100 works of local art and other items from local businesses to bid on, all starting at just $25!

Artwork by Lisa Puryear

This is a family friendly event, so bring the kids.   Preach Jacobs will be DJ'ing, plus  The Plowboys will be playing live outside.    With an open bar and catered hors d'oeuvres  provided courtesy of The Whig and Rosso,  the motto for the day is Eat, Drink, Bid!

Artwork up for auction from  Jarid Lyfe Brown

Since 1977, Palmetto Place has been a safe haven for children of all ages in need of a place to call home.  Whether the child was abandoned,  abused, or neglected, Palmetto Place has been there for them.  The mission of Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for these abused and neglected children, offering them a broad range of services that encourage and promote healing through positive and healthy choices. The shelter is open 24 hours each day of the year and provides medical and mental health care, crisis adjustment/transitional counseling, after-school tutoring and recreational and social activities in addition to food, clothing and shelter. Visit http://palmettoplaceshelter.org/ for more information.

"Poppies" - Acrylic on wood panel - artwork up for auction from Barbie Smith Mathis

Sponsors for this event include: Ladybug Art Studios, Jasper - The Word on Columbia Arts, The Columbia Star, The Whig, Rosso, and Professional Printers.  Currently over 50 different artists are participating; also up for grabs are donated tickets from Nickelodeon Theatre, Trustus Theatre, Columbia City Ballet, and other goodies from local businesses. Best of all, the event is free and open to the public!

Artwork up for auction from Sean McGuinness, aka That Godzilla Guy

For more information, e-mail Amanda at lily581@hotmail.com.  The "event" page on Facebook is here.  S&S Art Supply is located at 1633 Main Street, just down from Mast General Store and the Nickelodeon. The event runs from 2-6 PM this Saturday, July 13th.

"Pimp Lyfe" -  mixed media on wood panel - artwork up for auction from Faith Mathis



Mingling & Jingling with S&S and Whitney LeJeune -- A Guest Blog by Amanda Ladymon

The lights, decorations, and art have been hung with care…

Hosting its third Mingle & Jingle on Main Street, S & S Art Supply continues to show some of Columbia’s most talented artist in their gallery spaces. Having no short supply of amazing and creative people, Columbia’s “Art Renaissance” is going strong this holiday season. Whitney LeJeune is the featured artist with her exhibition titled “Flux”. LeJeune also had an exhibition at S & S in May 2011 when she moved back to Columbia after having graduated from SCAD.  DJ B will be spinning tunes out front on the street; a pleasant eclectic mix that is sure to entice the ears and warm the soul. Additionally, S & S is collecting gifts and donations for Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter – the wish tree created by Ladybug Art Studios (Amanda Ladymon), will be up until December 22nd. For more information on the wish tree, read the section towards the end of this article.



Whitney's work is more than beautiful - it transcends the sensual and feminine quality of the human form onto another plane of artistic freedom and colorful tranquility. Believing that the female form is the essence of worldly beauty, her inspiration in her paintings flow from spontaneity. These timeless and universal truths beat from the depths of her artistic heart.


“Flux is a constant state of change....Flux celebrates the marriage of my ever changing eye with my constant heart."


Whitney says her work is all about bringing passionate art into peoples' lives . . . and “putting emotions on canvas that bring pleasure and intellectual energy into homes, public places, and work places is what I love to do.”


She opened her first studio in 2009, began painting full-time in 2011, and hasn’t slowed down since. “I took the leap of faith - it’s demanding but I love it. I‘ve been blessed that so many people, especially women, have embraced my work.”


She works to serve-up enjoyment on an emotional and an intellectual level, mating form, color and the power of suggestion in every effort. “I’m most satisfied when I’ve said a lot with a just a few strokes of paint”.


Whitney’s work is influenced by her early childhood home, Austin, Texas, the elegance she draws from her family’s Southern roots, and a love of pushing herself to try new approaches to her subjects. She’s a 2009 graduate of SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design, BA, Painting). Her work includes the female form, portraiture, landscapes, architecture, and cover art for published novels.


This holiday season there are many children in Columbia without a nurturing family or safe place to call home. We want to help make the children of Palmetto Place Children's Shelter's holiday a little bit brighter with your help! S & S Art Supply has partnered with Ladybug Studios in creating a wish tree that will be on display at S & S from December 6th through the 22nd. Hanging from the tree are different gifts you can purchase for the children, such as a watercolor set, crayons, or a gift certificate towards supply purchases.


We are also happy to announce that Palmetto Place Children's Shelter will be the benefactor of our upcoming 3rd Annual Silent Art Auction & Fundraiser in July 2013!!!


Palmetto Place Children's Shelter provides a safe haven for children of all ages from newborn to 17 that are victims of abuse or neglect. These children are cared for 24/7 by a devoted and caring staff that provides medical and mental health care, crisis adjustment/transitional counseling, after school tutoring, recreational and social activities in addition to food, clothing and shelter. The shelter has been open since 1977 and has cared for more than 6,700 at-risk children.


There are around 16 kids who will spend the holiday season at Palmetto Place this year. Currently the youngest is 2 and the oldest is 16. They are involved in lots of after-school activities and school athletics. Art projects are a big hit at Palmetto Place!


"Children arrive at Palmetto Place at a time of crisis in their lives; they are hurting emotionally and/or physically. Victims of child maltreatment, they have been physically abused, sexually abused, physically and emotionally neglected, and/or abandoned. Many of the children have never experienced stable and secure living environments with compassionate caregivers. Their healing starts at Palmetto Place." www.palmettoplaceshelter.org


A family-run store, S & S Art Supply is owned and operated by Brian and Eric Stockard, Event/Exhibition/PR/Marketing Coordinator is Amanda Ladymon, married to Eric Stockard, and our newest mascot is beautiful baby Lily Stockard. With a cumulative breadth of knowledge of art supplies spanning 30 plus years, the Stockards are going strong and expanding onto more business ventures! Cigar Box #2, owned and operated by Brian Stockard will be opening two doors down from S & S Art Supply very soon, possibly having a small opening for this December’s First Thursday. Happy Holidays and Shop Local!

The Aura of Things (or the work of installation art) by Ed Madden


I’ve been thinking about things lately.  That is, I’ve been thinking about things.  Material objects, physical things.  How do things mean?


In part I’ve been thinking about things because of the grotesque consumerism of Black Friday, the greed of the season, and the ways that our culture encourages us to think love and happiness can be approximated and revealed in material objects.  (Jewelry commercials seem especially icky examples of this.)


But I’ve also been thinking of things because of two installation art exhibits I saw during the December Jingle & Mingle on Main Street art crawl: Susan Lenz’s “Hung by the Chimney with Care” at S&S Art Supply and Amanda Ladymon’s “Kindred Harvest” at Frame of Mind.


Installation art is tricky.  So much depends not on the idea, nor the execution, but on the things used. Socks, buttons, old cigar boxes, a Parcheesi board, yarn—things with little value, but weighted, in these projects, with meanings extraneous to the objects but integral to our perception of the art.  A useful word for this for me is aura, not necessarily in the sense that Walter Benjamin uses it to talk about the almost religious authenticity we feel (or once felt, he insists, before photography destroyed it all) for a work of art.  (And let me say here that I’m not an art theorist or an expert on Benjamin, just someone who likes to think about how artworks affect me, and why.)  In both of these installations, the objects had to be more than what they were, and our response depended on the associations those things held in our perceptions, our reactions.


Ladymon’s work depends on our emotional associations with childhood board games and family photos, even those not our own: a couple on a beach, a little girl on a bike, a family portrait, a wedding, an ultrasound fetal image.  I was moved by this display, but must admit that I wondered if there might be a fundamental disconnect in my experience of this work about familial, geographic, cultural connections, since these connections were marked not only by the overlay of photos over maps and images but also by the web of yarn connecting or not connecting these images to the Parcheesi board.  I’ve never played Parcheesi.  Although I have my own emotional and cultural associations with board games, and though I understand her explanation of how our lives and our families are created through unpredictable sequences of events, I sensed I might inevitably be missing something important about this work, since its heart was a resistant object, a thing that I didn’t understand.


Lenz, more perversely, demanded our attention to detritus, leftovers, garbage.  In a piece she produced earlier this year, "Two Hours at the Beach," Lenz incorporated all the garbage she found in two hours on Folly Beach into an art quilt, making an ecological statement as well as a fascinating textile piece.  (The quilt is currently part of a window display at Tapps.)  If that earlier work raised litter to the level of art, Lenz amps up that process with the new installation, layering cultural and emotional meanings (including the kitsch, the cliché, emotional garbage) onto our experience of what is basically, a bunch of junk.


An artshop window filled with old socks, scattered buttons, and a sad artificial Christmas tree with shabby tinsel would be a perverse display, were it not for the explanation prominent in the window: that these things came from the laundry of the old state mental hospital, and that her impulse—foregrounded in the title, a line from that bit of sentimental Christmas kitsch, “The Night Before Christmas”—was to emphasize the idea that not everyone gets to celebrate Christmas with family, either because they can’t be there, or because they’re not welcome there.  Junk here is transformed by our knowledge of its origins, like the beach trash but with a lot more cultural and political baggage.  Not just the mental hospital but also the cultural fictions of family that demand kitsch-ified versions of the holiday that don’t match the experiences of many.  Even our possibility for sympathy was registered in cliché—“There but by the grace of God go I,” a statement Lenz rendered on images of the hospital in cut-up letters like a ransom note.


But there were those socks, all those socks.  Parodies of the clichéd hung stockings.  Anonymous, leftover, but also registers of the authentic, the individual.  If this installation was filled with junk, it reminded me of the ways our culture treats certain people as junk: the mentally ill who are forced onto the streets by budget cuts, those whose lives don’t fit the cheery fictions of the season—the divorced, the orphaned, the rejected.


The window was so weird and powerful for me, filled with junk and cliché but so insistent that the viewer find a capacity for empathy—so insistent on an emotional authenticity in the aura of those things.  And so much depended on the origin of those things.  (Would the window make sense without that explanation in the window?)


I say all this not to diminish these projects.  I loved both, spent time with both, took my partner by to see both when he made it down after doing time eating over-salted food at some office party at a Vista sports bar.


What we do with things, how we think about things, the aura of things—this is part of how art works.


I have an artwork in my office at home: a page ripped from an old book, the poem “Sad Mementoes,” the first words of which are “Bereaved and forlorn.”  Other words are difficult to make out, since the page has been distressed with electric tape.  It’s an object marked by the process of erasure: lighter color, roughened texture, where the paper’s foxing and the poem’s ink have been lifted off the page with tape.  Above the title there is an image of a statue from a photo proofsheet.  Affixed to the page with a remnant of that black tape is pressed botanical specimen.


The work of Barry Jones, MFA student at USC back in the mid-1990s when I first came to the university, it is, for me, a haunting piece.  I don’t have to know that it is about his brother, or mental illness, or a book he found at a local antique shop for it to make sense, though those associations are now part of what it is and how it means.


Put a bone in a box—I’m thinking of my tenth-grade exhibit of animal skulls found on the farm—and it’s an object.  Call it “Reliquary,” and suddenly bones and boxes are weighted with a different kind of meaning—emotions, intimations of mortality.  They mean at a different register, not because of the objects but because of the aura of associations we have now for those objects.


As I type this, I’m wearing my father’s grey and black plaid flannel shirt, its literal warmth surely augmented by the emotion I associate with its wearing.  He passed away earlier this year.  He didn’t speak to me for almost a decade, literally, after I came out as a gay man, and I didn’t go home for Christmas for the past 16 years.  I spent three months earlier this year helping with his hospice care.  On my bookshelf there are three tiny plastic cups.  Clutter to anyone else, litter to another, but to me, a memory: one of those times that folks from church brought by the ritual bread and wine (crackers and grape juice), and we drank from those cups, me, my mother, and my father, lying in his hospital bed.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about things.  What we do with things.  How they mean.


-- Ed Madden




“Kindred Harvest” -- new works by Amanda Ladymon

kin·dred   [kin-drid]  noun or adj:

a person's relatives collectively; kinfolk; kin.

b.group of persons related to another; family, tribe, or race.

har·vest   [hahr-vist]  noun:

5. the result or consequence of any act, process, or event.


Local artist Amanda Ladymon will be showing some interesting new works during Mingle and Jingle on Main Street this week, though not at her home gallery at S & S Art Supply. Ladymon's work can be found down the street as an exciting installment in the FOM series at the Frame of Mind optical shop.

The new exhibition is composed of mixed media paintings on wood panel and on paper. Ladymon used a new photo transfer method in incorporating old photographs, dating back to the early 1920's through the 1980's. Incorporating biological drawings, she creates a metaphorical dialogue between the event or person in the photo and what is being implied through form and line. While it ranges from subtle to obvious, the shapes are consistently referring to reproductive processes in the female body, starting from the cellular level.

Upstairs at FOM, a special mixed-media assemblage and found object installation occupies part of the loft space.

According to Ladymon, life in so many ways, is much like a game of parcheesi. So many decisions, mistakes, or unexpected encounters happen with just the "toss of the dice." Each decision one player makes will inevitably affect the other players. Ladymon writes that she feels that life parallels this "game" in that, for every action, there is an effective chain of events that lead to everything else, whether we win or lose.

Over twenty-five altered cigar boxes, hang suspended and glowing from the inside. Each box contains photographic images layered with maps and other images, revealing an important clue as to where the photo was taken, or perhaps what memories are tied with that person or specific event taking place in the photo. Some of the boxes are connected with a line of string to different areas on the game board, signifying the connection between not only the people, but the events themselves.

For a better understanding of what brought Ladymon to this work, please read her artist statement below --

“Having recently tied the knot, my husband and I are weaving a new path and creating our own family, which makes me reflect back on my family and its many generations of strong women who held it together. This body of work investigates the many complexities of family and the roles played within those relationships. The mother and child bond and reproductive process is one strong influence on this work. Our upbringing affects us all, especially in determining what kind of person we turn out to be. Within this body of work, there are many photographic images used to reflect on my family’s past – all the photographs and drawings were acquired directly from my family albums. The many shapes and organic drawings interspersed amongst the photographic images represent the connective energy between each person, whether it was the memory of loving or possibly more of a longing. The use of circular forms continues to symbolize the connective relationship we have with one another in a biological or conceptual sense.

 “Another theme I have touched on is the idea of how each moment and decision in life affects another. While I generally feel repulsed by the images and ideas of war, I cannot deny the fact that if WWII hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t exist. World War II was a monumental turning point in America, in which millions of families were created due to strangers meeting and falling in love. My grandparents had such a story. They met while he was recovering from a broken back after his plane crashed.  He was a southern boy from Georgia and she was an adventurous, strong-willed California girl. With every little decision, mistake, and circumstantial event, they met and created a family. This sequence of events eventually lead to my birth and the strong influence their marriage continued to have on me throughout my adolescence and early adulthood.”


The Jasper Gallery

Jasper hates to brag but, what the hell, when you've got artists like we do in Columbia, there's just no need for fake modesty. To be honest, we're pretty proud of the growing assemblage of images we've collected thus far in our very own cyber exhibition space, The Jasper Gallery.

Among the artists represented in The Jasper Gallery, you'll find Justice Littlejohn, Amanda Ladymon, Kara Gunter, Lisa Puryear, and more.

You or your favorite artist could be represented as well.

The Jasper Gallery is a juried, online gallery for new, provocative, and outstanding visual art created by artists local to Columbia, South Carolina and its environs. To submit your original artwork for possible inclusion in The Jasper Gallery, please e-mail your work in JPEG format to editor@jaspercolumbia.com.

In the meantime, check out The Jasper Gallery as well as our other galleries (Friends of Jasper, the Making of a Centerfold, and images from our launch party -- Happy Birthday Jasper) all at www.jaspercolumbia.com.