Published Friday, December 07, 2012

Loftin's art show builds on his Coweta heritage

By W. WINSTON SKINNER

winston@newnan.com

Remembrance.

The simple but powerful word was written on a page of sermon notes by the late Willie Joe Loftin, preacher to several generations in East Newnan. The single word – remembrance – has been resurrected as the title of an art exhibit featuring the works of the preacher’s grandson, Chad Loftin.

Chad Loftin is working on his masters of education degree at the University of West Georgia, and his graduate art exhibit opened with a reception on Sunday. Loftin’s work – which draws heavily from his family history – will remain on display today and Saturday in the Bobick Gallery and other public areas at Kathy Cashen Hall on UWG’s main campus in Carrollton.

The exhibit includes a wide range of pieces, including three-dimensional works that incorporate trowels, photographs and a toolbox that belonged to Chad Loftin’s maternal great-grandfather. One piece incorporates a treasure trove of sermon notes Willie Joe Loftin saved over his years of preaching.

There also is a floating sculpture in the center of the building with words and phrases from the sermon notes emblazoned on strips of sheer cloth.

Chad Loftin crocheted a rug for one setting. There also are paintings, often on pieces of wood with architectural features.

Loftin got his undergraduate degree at West Georgia in 2005.

He taught art parttime at Moreland Elementary before accepting a teaching post at Evans Middle School, where he continues to teach art.

A unique factor about Evans was the genesis of “remembrance.” The old county pauper cemetery is located on a hill just west of the school’s campus. “Having the pauper cemetery right next to the school sparked my interest in looking at connections,” Loftin said.

Loftin found them. The exhibit has much connection not only with Loftin’s heritage, but with his life. A set of plastic elephants from his childhood plays a role in one tableaux.

A stack of plastic boxes filled with bird’s nests was the focal point of one piece. In several places there were lambs and fledgling birds made from a clay that dries hard but does not have to be fired.

Loftin also found that the specifics of his grandparents’ lives spoke more generally to “most of those people who give their lives helping the whole church family.”

Loftin said Willie Joe and Ruby Loftin were two of the people who made his life what it is.

Loftin has been working on the various components in “remembrance” for about three years. “Right now, you’re looking at the first time everything’s been put together,” he said.

Newnan resident Mike Webb was among those attending the opening reception. “It makes you think about where you came from and who you’ve met and what you’ve experienced,” he said.

Willie Joe Loftin has many talents besides preaching and undertook secular work to support his family over the years. Chad Loftin looked around his eclectic set of work and remarked that he was “kind of like Papa Joe – he did a little bit of everything.”

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