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Former Camden artist accepted into ArtFields juried competition

Posted: April 24, 2014 4:06 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Manda McKay, formerly Amanda Stahl and formerly of Camden, has been accepted into the prestigious ArtFields Juried Art Show, which will take place in Lake City from April 25 to May 4. McKay is the daughter of Camden resident Kathee Stahl and the late Dr. Edward Stahl.

The ArtFields juried Art Show is a major competition offering $100,000 in awards for the winning artists, with visitors helping to determine the winners.

McKay’s painting, I Love you to Death, will be on display at the Downtown Bakery and Deli at 133a East Main Street in Lake City.

The artwork is a realistic still life of a strawberry pierced by a feather. "This painting questions the ideals of love and passion," she said. "I hope it will start a conversation about a serious topic. This still life questions the ideals of love and passion. Although the phrase is playful, the title, I Love You To Death, hints at something more sinister."

"I like painting strawberries because they are somewhat heart shaped, with seeds resembling teardrops. I often use them to represent femininity. This strawberry is pierced by a feather, suggesting cupid's arrow, which is a rather violent concept. Even so, this is what everyone desires," she added. "I hope allegory and humor will start a conversation about a serious topic. Sometimes people let passion override love. But can real love ever cause harm?"

McKay plans to give an artist talk titled "Love, Passion and Danger" at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 3 at the Downtown Bakery and Deli.

McKay is a medical and veterinary illustrator turned painter living in Athens, Ga. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and her master’s degree from the Medical College of Georgia. She then worked for two years as the illustrator at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine before returning to Athens to freelance in veterinary illustration.

McKay is new to the fine art world, but her paintings have been displayed in numerous solo and juried exhibitions in the Southeast. In 2013, she won Best in Show in the Southworks juried exhibition. Her artwork has appeared on album covers for local bands, which is practically a requirement for an Athens artist.

A love of nature is evident in her subject matter. Feathers, shells, bones, fruit, and flowers are arranged in bold, simple compositions. The influence of her former profession can be seen in her realistic technique, but unlike medical illustrations, her paintings are meant to persuade rather than inform.

"I paint with an ulterior motive," she said. "My still lifes highlight humanitarian concerns by combining natural objects into suggestive new forms. Various items become shorthand for provocative concepts.

"I hope to express both ferocity and fragility, with my outrage softened by playfulness. To protest injustice through satire is exciting to me."

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