Hill’s paintings bring out life stories, colorful characters

Release Date: 4/21/2004. Expired: 5/28/2004

Each of the faces staring out from the large portraits on display on the second floor of The Renaissance Center tells a life story to which just about everyone can relate. They are people who might seem familiar because of their similarities to ourselves or someone we know; yet each of them is portrayed in their individuality.

Eight acrylic paintings on found board by Katrina Estes Hill are on display along the second floor of The Renaissance Center through May 28.

“Katrina’s works focus on the simple people in life,” said Curtis Southerland, curator for The Renaissance Center’s Visual Arts Gallery and various display spaces. “Her subjects consist of those individuals that we pass by every day and seem to never notice, or, better yet, try not to notice. Her work features small-town life and her subjects are very unique, bold and ‘in your face.’ It makes us confront these real people face to face.”

A native of rural Mississippi, Hill has lived in the western part of the United States but now resides in White Bluff in Dickson County. Her portraits range from homeless people to fishermen to shade tree mechanics.

“I have always had a passion for looking into the faces of colorful characters and reading their souls,” said Hill. “I don’t see beauty in them, nor do I see them as ugly. I see them as people who are a part of our society, mainly southern, whose faces tell a story that most Americans can relate to in one way or another.

“These faces may seem insignificant in many ways because they lack physical beauty in the eyes of some that may not have the interest or ability to look deeper. Everyone has a story and often that story goes untold because of our apathy and disinterest in seeing further into who they are, who they have been and what role they play in society.”

Hill’s paintings have titles like The Lawnmower Man, Familiar Stranger and Benny’s Boy, Bubba. And each sheds light on a life so common as to remind us of neighbors and friends. Each of the pieces is available for sale. For price information, contact Southerland at the center.

“Everybody knows Benny,” she says of the latter title. “Old cars are sitting all over the lot surrounding his garage. Benny calls them ‘part donors.’ There’s a bony hound dog keeping vigil on a short chain, which is attached to a truck tire. Benny’s busy underneath a car and you need to talk to someone about yours. You beep the horn and that’s when Bubba walks out. Benny’s oldest boy. He wipes his sweaty forehead with a cloth, black with grease, as he approaches you. He’s friendly, humble and everyone in town knows that you can always count on honesty when it comes to car repairs if you go down to Benny’s. Bubba listens intently while you inform him of your car’s symptoms. He’s mentally eliminating what it isn’t and deciphering what it is. He breathes through his mouth as he listens to you and his breathing is heavy and distracting. He shifts from one foot to the other several times, eager to conclude what the problem is and get back inside to finish Hank Johnson’s pick-up before Hank comes to get it at four.”

“Although some of the paintings seem uncomfortable to look at, there is a quality portrayed in these individuals that reflects a sense of peace that comes from being true to one’s self,” Southerland said. “They are obviously not trying to be like everyone else, they are just being themselves.”

“It’s not about inner or outer beauty. It’s about character,” Hill said. “It’s about the diversity of human beings. It’s about recognizing that diversity and stopping for a minute to acknowledge that we are still all one in the same. We are all God’s creation. I paint the faces of people that I believe all of us have met, have known or may have just passed by. It’s about reminding us to notice and celebrate our differences and similarities.”

The display of Hill’s paintings is part of Southerland’s continuing effort to showcase regional artists by using space throughout The Renaissance Center as exhibit venues. In addition to the Visual Arts Gallery, new displays are being placed in the first-floor halls of both the east and north wings of the building and the displays now include Hill’s paintings along the walls of the second floor in both wings.

“We plan to utilize as much space as possible to enhance the display offerings in The Renaissance Center, not only giving more artists a chance to gain exposure but also providing our visitors with a constantly evolving variety of artistic styles and mediums,” Southerland said.

In addition to Hill’s paintings, The Renaissance Center is currently displaying a multimedia exhibit by Freed-Hardeman University’s Kenny Jones in the Visual Arts Gallery through April 30, portraits of blues and rock musicians by Fairview artist Jackie Underwood in the north wing through May 21 and processed digital photographs by Chad Spann of Charlotte in the east wing through May 21.

For more information on art displays at The Renaissance Center, contact Southerland at (615)740-5519.

The Renaissance Center is an arts and technology education and performing arts center at 855 Highway 46 South in Dickson, just 35 miles west of Nashville on Interstate 40 at exit 172.

Visit the Visual Arts Gallery page for more about the gallery.

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