Emily Mitchell grew up in Arts & Crafts tradition of Western North Carolina.  While earning her BFA in drawing at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, she spent a semester abroad in Florence, Italy.  There she concentrated on Fresco painting,  speaking Italian, the art of the bacchanal, and spent a great deal of time in Florence's museums.  When Emily returned to North Carolina she was enthralled with the tradition of Vanitas. A collection of painting and drawings from the 16th and 17th century that employed still lifes to represent the frailty of life and death.  Emily did a Vanitas series,  that involved oranges in various states of decay, captured in drawings and two-dimensional sculptures.  In recent years Emily has expanded the Vanitas idea, to the idea of Liminal-isum, or the study of thresholds in life, death, or time.  Her most current collection is of drawings is of individuals captured in the midst of simple, daily, profane acts of brushing one’s teeth or eating.

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