From a distance, Cheryl Elmo’s paintings may look familiar, like something anyone would see walking down the street or during a morning commute to work, or maybe even an art piece someone has in their own home.
A closer look reveals the stunning array of details in the over 30 watercolor paintings of her work currently hanging in the Aiken Center for the Art’s main gallery. Thousands of tiny dots make up each portrait of the Go Figure exhibit, with watercolor being applied one brush at a time to advance each minor detail.
Each subject of her work is meant to be familiar to the audience through its expression of stance, she said, and hopefully stirs an emotion of nostalgia or comfort that they may have felt once before.
“Everything I look at is a figure with a certain look … everything is timeless,” Elmo said. “I want everyone who sees this to look at it and see someone they know, or it’s a look that they had.”
Elmo’s exhibit captures the human experience through the simplicity of everyday moments, from a ride on the bus in the wee hours of the morning to a day at the beach when sand and sunburn begin to be more irritating than relaxing.
Even loneliness, she notes in her portrait “The Space Between Us,” a portrait of a trio of young girls who, even as friends, can’t quite fill the gap they’ve created for themselves.
This image, like others in the collection, follows the central theme of human connection, giving each viewer a glimpse into another person’s perspective and the troubles they may experience in day-to-day life.
Past the tiny specks of color lies another detail that acts almost as Elmo’s signature in every single one of her works: a chicken wire design.
The tiny squares add a sort of texture to each image where shadows or hidden colors try to hide, Elmo said.
Elmo’s exhibit will be on display until Nov. 30. Another display, Colors of Mental Health, is on display in the second-floor gallery.
The Aiken Center for the Arts is located at 122 Laurens St. S.W. Admission is free, and masks are required.
Elmo’s works can be viewed and purchased from her website: https://www.cherylelmo.com/paintings or at the center.