In 2009, Chris Beck lost his job in construction during the Great Recession. Now, nearly a decade later, Beck’s newest project will premiere at the Fearrington Folk Art Show.
The Fearrington Folk Art Show started 17 years ago and now is an annual event produced by Fearrington Village. Tickets cost $5, and all sale proceeds benefit the artists directly.
”To me this show is like our Christmas," Kerstin Lindgren, the marketing and public relations manager at Fearrington Village, said. "It comes every year and it is completely different from anything else we do."
The show gives people the opportunity to have fun and see the visionary art that is not normally shown in a lot of places, Lindgren said.
Beck, an Alabama native whose art will be displayed at the show, is bringing heart — literally. His newest artwork centers around creating hearts from metal and wood. But, he wasn’t always an artist.
“In 2009 the market crashed, like big time. Lots of homebuilders went out of business,” Beck said. “I found myself without a job, and my wife was like, ‘Hey, you want to do this art thing, go do it.’ So I kind of dedicated myself to it full time. When I first started welding I was like ‘This is it.’”
Folk art like Beck’s is typically rooted in and reflective of the cultural life in a community, but Beck wants to expand beyond the genre.
“I think art is art," Beck said. "If there’s something in your gut and it’s coming out, to me, there’s something just innately beautiful about that. Whatever the medium, whether it’s a song, or a painting or a metal sculpture — if there’s something that’s inside of you that’s burning and churning and you’ve gotta get it out, I think it’s amazing.”
Despite growing up in a traditional art environment, Beck’s inspiration comes from Charlie Lucas, and the art Lucas created in a junkyard.
”I was introduced to an artist out of Alabama named Charlie Lucas, and he at the time was living on a junkyard,” Beck said, “He lived at his family's junkyard and he was welding car parts, hoods, doors, fenders and bumpers into these amazing, I mean I can’t — words. I don’t have the vocabulary to describe how it made me feel, and how beautiful it was to see rusty metal, and for it to be not just aesthetically pleasing but fabulous, beautiful.”
Meeting Lucas had a deep impact on Beck and helped influence Beck to be the artist he is today.
“What was amazing to me seeing something so raw, and in a way not artistic, not artsy, just raw.” Beck said. “Just something visceral. There’s something inside of you that has to come out and you don’t care what it looks like as long as you get it out.”
Another artist whose art will be presented at the Fearrington Art Show is Hamidou Sissoko, who is originally from the Republic of Mali and now lives in Pittsboro.
“I’ve never gone to art school, tried to sit and study how to make art," Sissoko said. "Everything comes naturally to me.”
Even if somebody isn’t familiar with folk art, Beck still believes it is worth it to attend the Fearrington Folk Art Show.
”I feel like there’s a lot of people who don’t know that they would love it until they’re introduced to it,” Beck said. “And then they realize ‘Man, I really am an artsy person. I am into this.’”
To those intimidated by the prospect of cerebral art, Beck doesn’t believe his artwork fits into that category.
”I don’t create art to make a political statement," Beck said. "I don’t create art to hope you like it. I make what’s in my mind. I make what’s in my heart. I make it to the best of my ability. I try to stay true to the images that I see in my mind. I try to stay true tangibly, so if I see it in my mind, I want to be able to make it with my hands and to have what I make in my hands match what I saw in mind.”
The event will be held on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24.