CHADRON – An exhibit of salvaged wood including pieces from Hurricane Sandy, “Stitched in Wood,” by Laura Petrovich-Cheney will be open Monday, Feb. 12, through Friday, March 16, in Chadron State College’s Memorial Hall. A reception for the artist will be Monday, Feb. 12 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The exhibit is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Petrovich-Cheney, a New Jersey Council on the Arts Fellow for Sculpture in 2017, said, in her artist’s statement, she creates sculptures and installations by resurrecting and transforming detritus that she finds in her natural surroundings.
“Often my inspiration begins during a walk when, by chance, I come across discarded, broken or decaying material. A plastic top, a piece of string, a fallen tree limb, or a washed up boat—all hold aesthetic promise, as I imagine transforming the material into something new. My work mirrors the human experience, so full of transformation, second chances, reinvention and resilience,” Petrovich-Cheney said.
When describing the process of arranging wood from the 2012 into smaller pieces, then rearranging the parts into a larger quilt design, she affirms both local and universal themes.
“In its aftermath, the once organized communities and lives of the residents were recognizable only as piles of rubble distributed haphazardly during the chaos of the storm. Clapboard siding, floorboards, cabinets and window frames, were often all that remained of homes torn apart by the storm's ferocity. The intimate textures of this wood, with its chipped layers of paint, nail holes and grain, tell a story and suggest another prior life in the faded colors and worn surfaces,” she said.
She said her intentions in preserving the wood and transforming it into aesthetically pleasing forms include restoring some order, meaning and sense of place to the ravaged landscape by creating something with the wood.
“I wonder about its former life as a little girl's dresser or a kitchen cabinet that held cherished china. Each piece … was a promise of reinvention to be perceived once again for its beauty and intrinsic value,” she said.
Petrovich-Cheney said she looked to the past for ideas and discovered inspiration in the American pioneer woman's can-do, resilient spirit in quilts.
“I learned that these women crafted quilts for warmth and comfort with scraps of cloth. These wooden quilts also recall a past heritage of craftsmanship and labor,” Petrovich-Cheney said.
—CSC College Relations