By Ann Nichols
Amy Duke's fascination with flags as the subject matter for her paintings stems from her childhood in New England.
"I was born and raised in New Canaan, Conn., where American flags were outside almost everyone's home," she said. "Summers vacationing on Nantucket, July 4th barbecues, fireworks and more recently with 9/11, the flag symbolized the true unified spirit of our country."
An exhibition of Duke's paintings will be on display during July and August at Shuptrine's Gold Leaf Designs. Titled "American Dreams," the show features abstract and whimsical images that reflect Duke's American heritage.
"In celebrating our American holidays of independence, Shuptrine's Gold Leaf Designs is proud to showcase Amy's work," said Bonny Shuptrine, co-owner of the gallery. "She creates a display of proud work, keeping in tune with current thoughts about what patriotism looks like and feels like."
Duke said she is intrigued by all the different versions of the American flag and how we finally arrived at the current one. Many of her paintings are inspired by quilts that were made as variations of the flag.
"I believe that I take flag imagery to another level," she said. "Symmetry, balance and eye-pleasing motifs are what have given my paintings a more design feel."
Using acrylic on canvas with some gesso and pencil, she makes what she calls folk-inspired images. She likes the loose, casual feel of folk art and strives to make artworks that relate to, yet are casual interpretations of the American flag.
Duke's love of art goes back to childhood when she illustrated and sketched just about everything. Her grandfather, who was a watercolor artist, served as a strong source of inspiration for her.
She studied art at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., where classes in art history exposed her to the work of Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. These two artists continue to influence her style and subject matter.
Duke resides in Atlanta with her husband and 4-year-old daughter - balancing family responsibilities with a burgeoning art career.
Shuptrine's Gold Leaf Designs, 2646 Broad St., is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday; and by appointment. Call 266-4453.
Email Ann Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org.