By Ken Tunnell

Richmond’s Gallery on Main is hosting Rise Above, an exhibit featuring artist and author Obiora Embry, book maker Terry Joe Sledd and other regional artists. The opening reception will be on Tuesda, September 12, from 5:30 to 7 pm. There is something for everyone as displayed artists’ work features various mediums.

One of the featured artists is Obiora Embry who is no stranger to Richmond and whose photographs grace the invitation to this exhibit. Embry said he began creating art early in life. A member of the Art Club at Arlington Elementary in Lexington, Embry said he imagined becoming an art teacher. During his formative years, Embry mainly drew and sketched. At age 10, he received his first camera – a 110—as a birthday present and began a new hobby as his passions remained in drawing and sketching.

Taking a hiatus of sorts for a few years from creative arts, Embry returned to sketching and creative writing but found a new calling in photography.

“I took many photographs of my gardens to show at various exhibits, conferences and festivals, and sometimes would get compliments on them by the printer but I paid little attention to it,” Embry said. “But something changed or I started taking the compliments more seriously and I decided to venture out more and put my photography on public display. My first attempt was at my first book signing in Columbus, Ohio. I had it at my job and printed up three photographs. My co-workers liked my photographs and I gave the pieces to three of my co-workers/friends prior to moving back to Kentucky.”

Embry said he hopes that his art “communicates some of the innate beauty of Nature with others, expands horizons and, in the words of James Baldwin, ‘disturbs the peace’ in an effort to help people ‘rise above.’ By being creative I am able to connect more with myself and it gives me an opportunity to share myself (or what I am thinking or grappling with at the moment) with others.”

Gallery on Main’s other featured artist for this exhibit is Terry Joe Sledd from Western Kentucky. Sledd, a mixed media artist, has been a book artist for the past seven years. Sledd said he considers his art a way of communicating “that our stories are not the same and do not fit into the same style structures. From one day to the next the structure of our story may have grown or totally transformed. When we realize this fact, we can empathize with not just others but ourselves.”

Sledd said there are challenges and rewards from his book making art. His challenge is “making what is in my head become a reality.” While the rewards come from “being so enthralled into a piece I am creating that the world around me has seemed to become harmonious. The greatest reward is seeing a smile or a spark of connection on someone’s face when they are viewing and considering a Book’s implication.”

The September 12 opening reception features complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres along with musical entertainment provided by Ken Tunnell & Ronnie King. The reception and exhibit are sponsored by the City of Richmond, the Richmond Garden Club, Currier’s Music World, Jim and Mary Sue Thompson and others. The event is free and open to the public. The exhibit continues through November 7.

Gallery on Main is located inside Community Trust Bank, 128 West Main Street, Richmond. The gallery is open Monday-Thursday from 8:30am-4pm and Friday from 8:30am-5pm.