Mayflower teacher shows art at Historic Arkansas Museum

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published January 25, 2015 at 12:00 a.m.
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Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

Russellville native Rachel Trusty has a variety of her artwork in a solo exhibit at the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock. She is shown here with Portal I, For My Father, which she created from old silk flowers she collected at the family cemetery. The exhibit will remain on display through Feb. 9.

LITTLE ROCK — For her latest works of art, Russellville native Rachel Trusty has drawn inspiration from her family and one of her favorite poets.

Borrowing the title of one of e.e. cummings’ poems, Trusty titled her solo exhibition at the Historic Arkansas Museum “this is the garden: colours come and go.”

The exhibit includes paintings, sculpture and mixed-media works that center on floral motifs.

“The collection alludes to femininity, family and the transience of life,” said Trusty, who is the daughter of Lola Roberts of Russellville and the late Dan Trusty. She teaches art at Mayflower High School.

The exhibit will remain on display in the Second Floor Gallery at the Historic Arkansas Museum, 200 E. Third St. in Little Rock, through Feb. 9. There is no admission charge. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

Trusty graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in art education and from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University in 2011 with a Master of Fine Arts degree in studio art. She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Among the elements of Trusty’s new exhibit are three “portals” that are created from funeral flowers collected from her family’s cemetery, Ellsworth Cemetery near Subiaco in Logan County.

“That’s where my dad is buried,” Trusty said. “I asked once what they did with the floral arrangements that were placed on the graves after Decoration Day. They told me they burned them. I said I would like to have them. So my mother and I went there and picked up nine sacks of silk flowers. I had hundreds of flowers.”

Trusty said the portals “serve as a metaphor.

“The flowers allude to the body. They were each made through a ritual, similar to our ritual in preparing a body for eternity.

“The discarded flowers are returned to a clean and renewed state through washing and arranging. Yet, unlike the body, they are manufactured — already eternal. That allows for permanency.”

Trusty said the flowers are sewn, knotted, twisted and woven together to create a “mandala-like” portal.

“The delicate hand-sewn connections between flowers allude to our connections with each other and to the natural world,” she said.

The portals are suspended. Trusty said the installations are not passable but allow the viewer to peer through to another side.

“This creates barriers in the physical space,” she said. “Because we are still corporeal, we cannot pass through, just see through, sometimes clearly and other times hazily, to the other side. The portals serve as spiritual passageways for the living, to see a brief glimpse into the eternal.”

Other elements of the exhibit include large floral meditation paintings made with acrylics and resin on canvas; nature sphere collages made with pine, polyurethane and acrylics; and abstracted paintings derived from photographs of Trusty’s mother’s flower garden.

Trusty said the exhibit, which she refers to as The Floral Collection, “exemplifies my process and my preferences in all my art-making.

“I prefer to work conceptually, believing materials are imbued with meaning. I am drawn to long, detailed processes. I often use sewing, embroidery or other techniques, which could be viewed as women’s handicraft. My work is often centered around feminine themes, and though The Floral Collection speaks about life and vitality, all of the works are inherently feminine through their floral forms and decorative and delicate nature.”

Trusty said it took her about nine months to complete the works for the art exhibit.

“I just kept adding to it,” she said.

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