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Veronica Black became interested in art as a child and even considered applying to an arts-centric school. But a guidance counselor discouraged her. "Too many starving artists," the counselor said.
Art in her life faded shortly after that. The Bluffton resident went on to become a school social worker and retired after a fulfilling career, she said. But Black picked up the brush again about a year ago. She was diagnosed with cancer and needed something to keep her mind steady during her fight with the disease, sometimes painting late into the night when sleep eluded her.
"I thought of it as good therapy," she said.
Black doesn't call herself an artist, rather, a hobbyist who dabbles in folk art, painting what comes to mind. But a friend introduced her to Hank Herring, a resident artist at ARTworks in Beaufort. Black asked his opinion of her art. He told her she was an artist -- and her art needed to be seen.
Black is one of about 20 artists showing or performing their work for the first time in public at the "Do You See What I See?" exhibit at ARTworks that opens today.
They're photographers, painters, poets, musicians and dancers. Some have been artistic all their lives, but just never had the encouragement or confidence to show. Others are picking up art and are looking for feedback.
All are looking to get over that thrilling, nerve-wracking, anxiety-prone hurdle of subjecting their creations to a greater audience.
"The point is to encourage artists to not be intimidated to show their art," said Herring, who organized the exhibit. "You don't know how talented you are until you put your art out there."
The exhibit is titled "Do You See What I See?" to pose a question to the audience. Herring sees talent in each of the exhibitors, and he asks the viewer to find that talent as well. At the least, he hopes the show will allow the artists to determine for themselves whether they want to continue to create and show their work. If they do, he plans to help them after the exhibit is over.
After the show, Herring plans for each artist to have a separate section on the ARTworks Web site, where they'll post images of their latest work each month.
"You'll be able to see their progress as an artist," he said. "When the piece is up, they'll be able to get encouragement."
Like Black, they might not consider themselves artists. But if the viewer thinks their art is good, it won't matter.