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3/28/02 - Holding Hands With Mortality: April 8 - 22, 2002
Woodstock Art Student Holds Senior Art Exhibit At Reinhardt College

Kendrick "Rusty" Shackleford is on a roll: as a senior art major, he's hosting an exhibit of his work at Reinhardt College from April 8 - 22, he's been invited to the College Honor's Day ceremony as a award recipient, he'll receive a Bachelor of Fine Art in Art on May 4, 2002, and he's been awarded the $18,000 Holderness Scholarship, in-state tuition and an assistantship at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro. And these things couldn't have happened to a more intriguing or deserving "guy next door."

Shackleford has lived in Woodstock, Ga., since age 12. He has known for many years that art was his calling -- ever since his father, Air Force photographer, "turned him on" to art.

"Art for me is the way I deal with my life, a diary, how I process different information," Shackleford said."

His senior exhibit, "Holding Hands with Mortality" will be displayed in the William W. Fincher Jr. and Eunice L. Fincher Visual Arts Center at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Ga. The opening reception will be April 8 at 7 p.m. and will include a musical performance by Lewis. The reception and exhibit are open to the public free of charge.

Reinhardt Assistant Professor of Art T. Brett Mullinix speaks highly of Shackleford and his work. "Rusty represents what this art department is all about, that we can take a student's raw talent and direct it in such as way that the student discovers his or her true form of visual expression," Mullinix said.

Mullinix describes Shackleford as coming to Reinhardt "with many preconceptions about what art was and what he wanted to do." With much effort and many frustrating encounters, Rusty and Mullinix "were able to glean the unnecessary and come to the essence of what he was trying to say with his imagery. Once he uncovered what he was really trying to say, the rest was relatively easy," Mullinix said.

Shackleford is s someone with "an incredibly mature work ethic that has only become stronger with each year" and as "an inspiration to fellow students. He's raised the bar," Mullinix said.

Shackleford describes his work as primarily a reaction to his younger brother's death in 2000. He was killed by a drunk driver. "It's about me dealing with his death, but in a larger sense, it's about the way as humans we deal with mortality."

Shackleford's work is very personal to him, however he deals with basic universal themes such as death, decay and the transient nature of our existence, Mullinix said.

When Shackleford creates something, he said he strives for a particular presence, whether spiritual or existential. "I don't want to imply too much with my work. I want them to extend their hands as well, and I want to meet them half way. I like it when people bring their own experiences to my work," he said.

Shackleford's works are striking and attention grabbing, and they feature mostly neutral tones. "I want people when they see my work, I want to create an intimate atmosphere. I think my work is extremely personal in that sense. Neutral tones are important to me, I don't want to suggest a lot with color."

Though several of the pieces in Shackleford's show will be drawings that help explain where he came from, most involve wax. He melts beeswax and paraffin, applies it to the backdrop with a brush, paints over it with paint, then applies another coat of wax. Working with wax "is nice because it transforms and goes through different states as it heats up and as it cools," he said. "For me, that can be associated with death and life, the changes in form. It has a real nice fleshy texture."

In addition to short range plans involving art, Shackleford's long range plans are in that area, as well. After finishing his master's, Shackleford hopes to be a professional artist and sell his work for about 10 years. Then he would like to teach on the college level, but he would like to "have some type of tangible experience" before beginning teaching.

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