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Vera Sprunt: Whole


by Jon Carver for THE magazine, Santa Fe's Monthly magazine of the Arts


The biosphere presents a seamless yet differentiated spherical whole that humans interpret as good, bad, and in between.  Life’s visual, aural, tactile, taste, and smell experiences continue unabated into sleep and dreams.  The respite of darkness is there to make the light clearer.  We form our meaning through patterns of connection, but in a real sense there is no meaning since a priori all these differentiated bits are already holographically interconnected, or, according to this theory, pieces and places of the universe, which only acquire meanings we humanly apply.


On a phenomenal level, one of the more impossible artistic acts is the cross-sensory feat of synaesthesia.  Painting a taste.  Composing the sounds of a sunset. Writing so you can smell it. These are all a great source of the incomparable vastness of what we can’t know, and excellent evidence of interconnection.


Vera Sprunt builds images through rhyming forms. She grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina, and still spends time at nearby Wrightsville Beach, where she, in collaboration with her family, created the autobiographical photos that make the composite photos that make the show’s imagery. Imagery which is then transferred to transparent orthofilm, layered with clear sheets to which acrylic paint has been applied, laminated in a vacuum sealer perhaps, or so it seamlessly seems. Mylar backed, and elegantly framed.


Sprunt’s sister doesn’t hear, and much of the work in the show is part of Sprunt’s ongoing Auricula series. This is a spirally Latin word for ear, and most of the pieces shown here present the ear as icon. These pieces are prayers of supplication borne on the need for understanding the why of the way things are. The ears are surrounded by seashells and flowers. These are beautiful, lyrical images. In Auricula 1/5/1915 the ear sits on the beach in the midst of a washed-out sand castle that because of Sprunt’s compositional deftness, fluctuates size-wise between monumentality and intimacy. She grasps the enormity of the personal, and longs to convey in pictures the look and vibration of hearing sounds.


The red and violet black-eyed Susans of Auricula 7/16/1998 are sumptuous in their abundant clatter and surprise like a song. The layered, shimmery surface that Sprunt’s technique achieves shine in Auricula 8/24/1954 with its tiny, red rosebud afloat in the center of the ear’s in-curling form. Because of the interconnectedness of all things a picture can be loud or silent. A dance can have flavor. Through Vera Sprunt’s art the impossible, the synaesthetic, the feeling of the whole, is sublimely achieved. The images here will travel back to the Louise Wells Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington in November.

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