Starting in February, more than 900 dolphins mysteriously died and washed ashore off the coast of Peru. It was not the first such event, but it was the largest.
Experts are still arguing about potential causes. Underwater testing by the military? Seismic surveys by oil companies using air guns? No one can say for sure.
Seemingly unrelated, thousands of pelicans have died in the same area.
In other regions of the world, squid also have become unexplained casualties.
At the time of the Peru dolphin die-off, Inman Park-based artist Joyce E. Mitchell was mourning the loss of her grandmother, who lived in Austell. Dorothy had been Mitchell's "second mother" during her childhood. She passed away suddenly in her home, apparently of coronary disease.
Mitchell, an avid diver and lover of sea life, became fascinated with the Peru tragedy. Still grieving her grandmother, she did extensive research on the dolphin puzzle. During this dark time, instead of conclusions, Mitchell drew a series of works in graphite entitled “Lateral Lines.”
Themes that revolve around secrets, mortality, and the effect of sound frequencies on marine life combine in Mitchell's set of compelling, heartfelt studies.
They’ll be on display for 60 days starting this Friday at Kavarna coffee shop in Decatur, along with the paintings of established, Decatur-based artist Hilary Yarbrough, the driving force behind the show, whose vivid, haunting work spans media that include watercolor, ink, marker, graphite, oil, digital and acrylic.
“The Why” propels Yarbrough’s art, she says.
“The Why makes me question what a body’s posture would look like if it was grieving, or confused, or hungry. It makes me contemplate what a person would be thinking in the milliseconds preceding a life-altering choice – and then in what shape her hand would be while that thought flashed.”
Though her website refers to her as “The Anti-Illustrator,” Yarbrough is “not actually anti-anything. The ‘anti-’ stands for my desire to be unlimited by any one genre or medium. I am interested in many things outside of the art world.”
To sum up her approach, Yarbrough, who is also an accomplished musician, quotes Jon Brion: “I taught my hands to follow whatever was coming into my head – and wherever my consciousness would go, I had to push my hands to follow. And at some level, you just had to abandon any concern about how you’d look.”
The show Yarbrough put together is called “The Equalizer” and kicks off with a reception at Kavarna that includes literary readings by Myke Johns (known for his work with Decatur’s Write Club Atlanta), Gina Rickicki, and the guy who is writing this blog. There will be music, too, from two bands: R_Garcia and The A.B. Temperature. The reception starts at 8 p.m. at Kavarna on July 20. We hope to see you there.