Notions of Time Exhibit at Burnsville TRAC

Beginning October 19, at 10:30 am, the notion of time will take on an entirely new meaning with the opening of the  “Notions of Time” exhibition at the Burnsville TRAC Gallery. Robin Johnston, Ben Elliott, and Cassie Floan will offer up their own interpretation of time through the visual languages of fiber, glass, and photography. Their work will communicate ideas associated with time—its importance and how it is perceived. 

Robin’s work deals with measuring time, capturing moments as they pass, and the sense of loss that accompanies their passing. She weaves with plain materials and basic patterns to overemphasize simplicity. Her intention is to bring into focus a certain stillness that is hard to define, a reverence for patience and humility. “There is a level of protest in choosing to work in a widely forgotten medium and deliberately making the process of weaving much slower than necessary. It is a subtle reaction against our hurried society. I track patterns in nature such as ocean tides, light, heartbeats, and seismic activity. Using this data, I invent restrictive systems that dictate the methods and process for each piece. All the elements collected during the making accumulate into real-time maps of my physical experience weaving. The work investigates my feelings of distance from the natural world through recording and re-interpreting its’ constant cycles. It also acknowledges the impact human existence has on the earth’s natural time rhythms.”

Ben views his work as small fragments of a story that unfold with time. Every fragment is part of a personal narrative that might come from the past, the present, or the future. His hope is to evoke a particular thought or memory using familiar images as a common thread. This technique brings a certain feeling, the rest of the story is up to the viewer.

His recent work is inspired by old sayings about time. He transforms these old sayings into his own visual interpretations of them. During this process, the personal narrative element of his work is exposed. Whether it’s internal or external, seasonal or day to day, time is a concept all humans share. Ben hopes to be able to show others, through his work, how important and precious are the seconds in a life. 

Cassie’s “notion” came from a background in photography, where she enjoyed the element of process found specifically in Bromoil prints—a time consuming process where every step has to be just right to achieve the desired results. “Digital imagery has changed how we perceive information and made traditional photography obsolete. While this was difficult to accept at first, technology and time pushed forward with new opportunities and ways of seeing.”

The work, Still Arrangement, is her way to rediscover a similar mood and aesthetic that Bromoil offered. “Although the process is not the same, I am finding that the content can still be captured. My intent with this work is to record the passing of time through the visual production.” Her work in the exhibition is a labyrinth, which she finds calming despite its inherent intricacy. A Still Arrangement is an installation of jewelweed flowers organized in the form of a labyrinth on top of a bed of sand. While arranging this piece, every step of the process became a symbolic layer. From gathering the flowers to pouring the sand to watching the decline, each step placed emphasis on the moment. 

Different approaches in aesthetics evoke an introspective thought, a meaningful conversation, or stir up a memory for the viewer. Personal narratives are an underlying connection. Time is represented through recording passages of real-time (fiber), a visual account of a process (photography), and abstract representations of time with surrounding imagery (glass). All are reflective of the artists’ environments and changing lifestyles that tend to shift from the day to day to the cyclical concepts of time.

“Notions of Time” featuring the works of Robin Johnston, Ben Elliott, and Cassie Floan will run from October 19 through November 16. A meet-the-artist reception, free and open to the public, will be held Friday, October 18 at the Burnsville TRAC Gallery, 102 W. Main Street from 5 to 7pm. Gallery hours are 10:30am to 5:00pm Tuesday–Saturday. For more information, please call 828.682.7215 or email

The Toe River Arts Council is 501C-3 nonprofit and is supported by donations, memberships, local government support, grants (including the North Carolina Arts Council, a state agency) and earned income from its events and sales. For more information, visit

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People : Ben ElliottCassie FloanRobin Johnston
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