The display cases at the Crawfordsville District Public Library’s Mary Bishop Gallery are filled with the unique artwork of Anne Sexton and her mother, Phyllis Brower.
For Sexton the show is a first.
The display features several pieces Brower has entered in the county fair over the years. Sexton said one of the pieces was the grand champion of the open class.
As a young girl Sexton learned to knit, sew, embroider and cross-stitch from her mother. Her love for crafting grew and continues to be displayed in her work today.
She thoroughly enjoyed the lessons because she loved to create beautiful things, but most importantly as long as the lessons continued she could remain close to her mom.
Her mother died in 2007 and today she looks back on those moments together as special ones.
She said there are days when she longs for one more moment, one more conversation, one more glimpse of her mom’s beautiful face and gentle hands.
Sexton and her mother enjoyed the art of counted cross-stitch. Using floss, x-shaped stitches are created one at a time to form a design or picture. Sexton and her mom preferred using linen with 22 to 28 stitches per inch.
The pair initially produced work that was predominantly reproductions of historical samplers. They often created samplers to celebrate births, commemorate marriages and denote name etymology.
As they increased their skills, their interests broadened and they sought more challenging work. The challenges were usually determined by the count of the fabric, the intricacy of the design and the introduction of new techniques.
“A shared love of ours was tweeding,” Sexton said. “A technique where two or more colors of thread are used in the same needle at the same time to give depth and a subtle blend of color to the finished piece.”
On display in the gallery is one of Sexton’s favorite pieces, “Father Winter.” It is a piece that took her nearly three years to complete.
Being asked to show her work in the gallery gave Sexton incentive to finish the piece. She said that it is an excellent example of the use of tweeding.
Over the years Sexton’s work has evolved into more complicated pieces. She has begun experimenting with her pieces, adding beadwork.
A majority of the pieces Sexton makes are for gifts.
Joining Sexton and Brower in the gallery is the work of Kari Rajkumar of Paris, Ill. Rajkumar specializes in graphite and pastel portraiture work.
Her work began to evolve in 2006 after discovering the technique of photorealism. Using the grid method she can achieve greater accuracy in portraying her subjects.
In 2008, she attended a brief introductory workshop in pastels, where she received only 15 hours of instruction. Through trial and error she has taught herself.
Rajkumar is an award winning artist. She draws a wide variety of subjects from fresh-faced children to grizzly-bearded men and historical re-enactors.
Her work has gained national and international recognition. Her graphite portrait “Will” received third place in The Artist’s Magazine 26th annual competition. She also received Best of Show for her pastel painting “Capture the Light” at the 2010 October National in Decatur, Ill., as well as the Bob Davies Merit Award for her pastel portrait “Tom Bear.”
These pieces are on display at the library along with other pieces of her work.
She is a member of the board of directors at the Prairie Art Center at Paris, Ill., and is a member of the Portrait Society of America. Her work also can be seen at www.karirajkumar.com.