art 2The sweet aroma of mint and cinnamon catch the nose's attention as artist Stephen Watson patiently empties various spices and fragrances onto a floor painting at Limestone College.

In a few hours, the different smells contained in the artwork provide a sensory experience in what Watson said he hopes invokes the descriptions of Jesus with a sweet fragrance found in Bible passages 2 Corinthians 2:14 and Ephesians 5:2. The 3-foot diameter circles feature alternating patterns with mint, cinnamon, chili powder, parsley and other spices in a painting installed for his "In Good Faith" exhibit.

The art exhibit will run Jan. 14-March 7 in Granberry Gallery on the Limestone College campus.

The exhibit features process-oriented artwork based on art pieces Watson has collected through his own efforts to illustrate sermon topics given by ministers in his home church at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He earned a bachelor's degree in Studio Art from Williams Baptist College in 2010 where he studied painting and Christian ministries.

Watson said his Limestone exhibit explores how artwork created for a sacred church setting can be used again for display in a more secular space.

“Regardless of context, my art installations cause enchanting communal situations where thinking, feeling and faith converge and play,” Watson said. “The sincerity of my work and message depends upon my continued commitment to serve and be accountable to the two communities to which I belong: the Christian community and the visual arts community.”

The Limestone College exhibit is the first time Watson has done a public art exhibit outside the Arkansas native's home state and in Alabama. He recently began reaching out to other areas nationally in an effort to make his artwork more widely available.

Watson worked with Limestone College art history professors Dr. Carolyn Ford and Dr. Youmi Efurd to install his art work over a recent weekend. They were assisted by 12-year-old KJ Chon, who moved from South Korea to live with his aunt Youmi Efurd in the United States.

They helped Watson use thumbtacks to mount 600 small plastic cups for an art piece which will be illuminated above the entrance to the Granberry study hall used by Limestone College student-athletes.

"One of the impressive things about Stephen is how precise he is in putting together his art. I hope this exhibit will lead to conversations about art and how it is installed," Ford said. "It is interesting to see artists like Stephen working with alternative materials to create art. When people view the 'In Good Faith' exhibit, they will need to look beyond the surface and find different meanings for the art."

(Article and photo by Scott Powell, The Gaffney Ledger)