Greenville woman proves there’s more to the art of wine tasting than what meets the eye

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Betsy Markowski photo

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – If you’re a wine connoisseur and lover of art looking for a place where you can have fun, Betsy Markowski is a multimedia designer based in Greenville whose art can be described as a narrative.

She creates visual stories or images that allow viewers to create their own stories. Her designs incorporate materials such as metals, textiles, glass, wood, stones, as well as some found objects or materials. During her career, she was an exhibiting member of the American Crafts Council, the American Pewter Guild and The Society of North American Goldsmiths.

Markowski has also received numerous awards in international, national and state competitions and exhibitions. A few of her highlights include first and second places for Best in Show for the American Pewter Guild Exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History followed by exhibits in a Pewter Show at the Renwick Gallery National Museum of Art in Washington D.C.

Markowski’s artwork will be featured in a special evening on Thursday at Wine Words & Gourmet in Washington.

Here’s a conversation with the artist whose work is unlike any other. She tells how she incorporates many different techniques all the while embodying humor that allows the viewer to identify each piece.

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What do you expect people who come to this event to get out of it?

“One, visual delights in seeing sculptures created with a combination of found, discarded objects coming to life as parts of a new creation and in so doing becoming useful in another way.

“Two, education about historical or fictional or mythological characterizations developed not true to form but true to the imagination of the artist.”

How do you use your art to tell a story?

“The story can be personal, historical or fictional. For instance, An Ode to a Relationship was created when my husband was in Eastern Europe for a year. The front of the piece is made with an old mailbox cover. It represents the joy of receiving a letter, an email, or a phone call. The back of the structure is made of old, rusted metal pieces representing the sadness of missing an important person in my life.”

The First Hot Air Balloon Ride Passengers came about when I read somewhere that the first balloon ride occurred in France in 1783 with a duck, a rooster and a sheep in the basket. The flight lasted eight minutes, and the animals landed safely. So, I decided to tell this story with a recreation of the balloon using discarded objects.”

Hot air balloon passengers

“Someone said to me one time “Come on, shake a leg.” I thought what an interesting saying. So I looked it up and found in the late 1800s and early 1900s it was used as an invitation to dance. A man might say to a woman “Come on the music is great … let’s shake a leg. Thus, Shake a Leg is my symbolic vision of the woman dancing.”

Shake a Leg

What are some things you enjoy most about your craft?

“One, researching history, traditions, events, etc.

“Two, then pondering them in my own eye, creating my own visual interpretation of them, then looking in my studio for objects that can use, or I can make to create that vision.

“Three, finally working through the process of putting the objects together, taking them apart because they do not meet my expectations, then recreating them until I am satisfied with the product.”

Why have your mixed media creations been described as narrative?

“By definition, narrative has many meanings all related to storytelling. The definition most related to my work is a representation of a particular story or process in such a way as to reflect a set of aims or values. Therefore, I want an audience viewing my work to see it not in my interpretation of the event but in their own interpretation in line with their personal aims and values. My intention in designing a sculpture is to help viewers create their own stories about it.”

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