SPARTANBURG, SC .- UPSTATE Gallery on Main
presents Frayed, a selection of denim drawings by prominent Conway, S.C., multidisciplinary artist, Jim Arendt. The exhibition, which opened on November 8 and runs through December 30, features approximately a dozen of Arendts recent works. An artists reception will be held from 5 8 p.m. November 17.
Growing up just outside the industrial city of Flint, Mich., Arendt explores the effects of the changing industrial landscape on the working class while shattering romanticized ideals and stereotypes. In his work, he portrays both individual struggles and larger economic and sociological issues through a variety of materials, but perhaps most strikingly with the ubiquitous fabric of denim. For the works included in Frayed, Arendt cut, sewed, and glued pieces of reclaimed denim, often donated by his subjects, into strongly emotive, life-sized portraits of his friends and family members.
Art making is a way for me to explore our changing relationship with labor, Arendt said. My research focuses on transitions in macroeconomic structures through the lens of their effects on individual lives, communities, and workers relationships to the structures of labor itself. Casting the people I know best into the center of my work, I explore how the changing landscape of labor has defined them, not as they were or are, but as I know them to be.
Arendt earned his BFA from Kendall College of Art and Design and MFA from University of South Carolina. Currently living in Conway, he is an assistant professor and gallery director at Coastal Carolina University. He has completed two artist residencies and has been exhibited nationally and internationally in more than 70 group and solo shows. Notably, Arendt was awarded the $50,000 top prize at ArtFields 2013, Best in Show at Hub-Bub Gallerys Emerging Carolina and at Fantastic Fibers at Reiser Art Center, Paducah, Ky., and received the South Carolina Arts Commission Visual Artist Fellowship in 2014.