THE ELEPHANT OF AVONDALE
Artist Sarah Meyers works detail and environmental education into a massive West Ashley mural
By Kristin HacklerShare this article:
The typical African elephant is between 10 and 13 feet tall. The one standing against the wall of the Cancer Society Thrift Store in Avondale is just a little taller at about 20 feet. His tusks have yet to be filled in and his eyes are ghostly clouds of what they’ll become, but in two months West Ashley artist Sarah Meyers thinks she’ll be complete.
“It’s the details that take the longest amount of time. Each of the circles take between 20 minutes and an hour to do,” says Meyers. The detail she’s referring to isn’t clearly obvious until one is standing within a few yards of the giant pachyderm. From the smallest rectangle made with precision detail to a perfectly round circle with concentric, maze-like formations reducing inward, the elephant of Avondale is a chaos of geometric configurations. Created with acrylic exterior latex paint picked up from the Habitat for Humanity resale store, the elephant represents far more than just the opportunity for this 24-year-old college graduate to make a contribution to the burgeoning West Ashley art scene.
“I’ve done art since I was little but I never really took any classes. I do a lot of ceramic and sculpture work and took classes in those, but I never had enough credit for a minor,” says Meyers.
Her majors from Clemson University were Environmental Science and Economics. And to pass the time during some of the drier economic classes, Meyers began to doodle in her notebook. Unlike many of us who simply draw spirals and fill in boxes, Meyers’ doodles began to take on real and intricate forms. As an experiment she decided to work the details into the frame of a greater image such a beetle, a rhinoceros, or an elephant. After that, it was a small step from drawing on paper to creating the image on useable material.
Today, Meyers creates her art on the backs of vintage jackets and sells them through Indigo on Vendue Range in downtown Charleston and via word-of-mouth. Each image is hand-drawn and takes around eight hours to create. Because of the intense amount of time and detail put into them, the jackets sell for $125 with 25 percent of every purchase going toward a select charity.
“It combines my passions. I have always liked to shop at thrift stores because of the positive environmental impact, and I can support an important charity. What’s left allows me to travel,” says Meyers.
And she travels every chance she gets. From studying indigenous tribes in the Amazon to researching humpback whales in Brazil, Meyers weaves travel, study, and positive steps toward environmental change into her life as intricately as she works details into her creations.
It was during her time in South Africa that Meyers became particularly fond of elephants. Though she was studying whales, her lodgings were right next to an elephant rehabilitation center. After work every day, she would walk down to the center and feed the elephants. Not long after she finished her semester there, she found out from the conservation group ECOTERRA that the president of South Africa's Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, sold more than eight tons of ivory to China in exchange for weaponry.
“Because of that trade, the tusks on the elephant are going to be red and there will be facts around them about Mugabe and the ivory trade,” says Meyers.
When the elephant is complete, it will be surrounded not only in information but with additional geometric detail done in spray paint and stencils.
To see more of Sarah Meyers’ work, visit Indigo at 4 Vendue Range in downtown Charleston. You can also purchase work directly from Meyers by emailing email@example.com or by calling 367-1316.