Erin Nathanson ’07 and Ben Hollingsworth ’04.

The city of Charleston attracts artists, makers, and doers of every kind. Some arrive in Charleston ready to make an immediate splash in the arts; others are slower to recognize and release their artistic potential.

Take Erin Nathanson ‘07, who studied arts management and art history while at the College. Her focus was completely on the arts. Classes like Mark Sloan’s Gallery Fundamentals and Frank Cossa’s Art History set her up for a career in her chosen field. After graduation, Nathanson went on to be the coordinator of the City Gallery at Waterfront Park, the arts & cultural relations director of ArtFields, and now runs her own gallery, The Southern, with her husband, Justin Nathanson.

Benjamin Hollingsworth ‘04, on the other hand, studied communications. His focus was on varsity soccer. After an injury ended his professional sports career, he took to art. He immersed himself in the New York art scene and absorbed every book, documentary, museum, and influence he could find. Hollingsworth’s work has been featured in group shows in New York and Miami and he mounted a solo show at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park in 2012.

Hollingsworth with “Vision of Labor” at The Southern

While they took different paths to get where they are today, these alums have come together to mount a show in Charleston. Nathanson and Hollingsworth have known each other from when she was curating a 2010 exhibit at City Gallery and he was one of the featured artists. The two stayed in touch throughout the years, and when Nathanson had her own gallery, Hollingsworth came to mind. “I’ve always been impressed by Ben’s studio practice, willingness to experiment, and the concepts behind the work,” says Nathanson, “He’s thoughtful and creates with purpose. We asked Ben to make work for our first solo exhibition at The Southern because his work is dope and we knew it would be an engaging experience.”

Vision of Labor opens at The Southern on Friday, March 25, 2016. The exhibit will be a site-specific installation of new works from Hollingsworth. He works with ceramics, tile, concrete, wax, mirror, and more to challenge the viewer to think, “What is he trying to say?” However, Hollingsworth states, “Understanding the meaning of everything has become fashionable. I do not know exactly how nor do I believe comprehension is a prerequisite for making or viewing art. If it were then I’m not interested. Not every work is meant for every viewer. It is okay if works are misunderstood, or take on different meanings, or are thought of as not art. But, ultimately, if I think of it as art, it is art. These are concepts that have been tackled throughout art history. We don’t necessarily need to be told what to believe or think.”

To see the works in person, stop by The Southern at 2 Carlson Ct. for the opening reception on March 25 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. or during regular gallery hours through May 15, 2016.