Those who want to enjoy Hopper’s creations can do so by visiting the A.D. Gallery at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, which will host Hopper’s latest works beginning Wednesday at 4 p.m. The exhibition, titled “Last Wild Places,” will include a talk by Hopper and a reception with music that will last until 7 p.m.
The featured art was created by Hopper last semester while she was on leave from her job as a professor of art at UNCP. During that time she traveled to the high mountains of Washington state and to the sandy beaches of Bald Head Island to find her inspirations.
Some of the art was created as Hopper spent time at an artist’s colony on Bald Head Island called No Boundaries that included three cabins. Twenty artists from around the world joined her there. Other paintings were done on location, surrounded by flaky-barked trees or marshes and reeds.
Painting on the beach can be a challenge, she said. One day the wind blew fiercely so she painted with bungee cords attached to her easel for stability. The cords were no match for the wind, however, and the painting was blown face down onto her color palate, attaching gobs of color she hadn’t planned — but quickly appreciated.
“I started to wipe it off and said, ‘Maybe I can leave it,’” said Hopper during an interview in her home in Red Springs. “There’s always an accidental quality to good painting.”
Weeks before, she had a much different experience as the artist in residence for the National Parks Service in the North Cascades National Park Complex in Stehekin, Wash. The park is secluded and without paved roads to her temporary perch — a historic mountain home with a view of Lake Chelan. There was no television and the only telephone was a public satellite phone. There she painted the mountains and waterfalls of the Northwest.
“It was very rugged, very scenic and there were no other artists around ... Every morning the light would come up over the rocky peaks,” she said.
The works on display will be a mix of media, including oil paintings, charcoal drawings, sumi ink, water colors and caustic media. The exhibit will include some of the ink drawings that Hopper did before she painted that show a progression of her thoughts as she began to compose her paintings.
She has invited Mary Jo White, the principal flutist at the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, to perform at the reception.
“She has a close affinity with nature; I saw that in her selections,” Hopper said.
The gallery and the exhibit are meant to show her work, but also to teach students in art appreciation classes or those in her water color, figure painting or graduate-level painting courses.
Hopper’s parents were supportive of her artistic tendencies while she was growing up in Idaho. They laid out newsprint on the floor so she could paint as a child. Her father was a photographer in his spare time, and some of his work was recently donated to a library in Idaho. She calls him her first influence.
“We were both focused on light,” she said.
When she was 2 or 3 years old, she told her mother she wanted to make “burals” — her awkward attempt to say “murals.”
“Before I could speak plainly, I wanted to be an artist,” Hopper said.
Her style could be called impressionistic, but she has a different label.
“I’m a painterly realist,” Hopper said. “Sometimes people call me an impressionist because of the loose flowing paint style.”
Hopper said there are fewer and fewer places you can go to see raw nature — and worries that mankind is destroying nature’s masterpieces.
“I try to show that beauty in my work and those unique environments that are really fragile,” she said.
IF YOU GO:
The work will be shown beginning Wednesday and Hopper will give an artist’s talk from 4 to 5 p.m. and then will hold a reception, which will last until 7 p.m.