When Carmen Neely walks into a room it lights up. I haven’t actually been in the same room with her, but from our chat over the phone Thursday, that’s the sense I get. She’s smart, energetic, thoughtful, witty and very well-versed in her craft.

You’ll see what I mean at her solo exhibition at Lump Gallery. Stop by on First Friday; here’s a guide to the art walk.

The Gastonia native, coming off her first solo show in New York at the Jane Lombard Gallery, will open “17 feet away,” which she says is a “reflection of the previous six months of my life.” According to the artist’s statement, the works are “documents of anxiety, longing, restlessness, hope, and apprehension.”

“It’s never the same but it’s never different.” Plexiglass, metal, glass, vinyl, acrylic and enamel paint.

In this show, the work titles come from conversations she’s had with friends and family. And even though the details of the experiences won’t be apparent, the titles “will provide a framework of what the possibilities of the narrative are and what the relationships could be,” she says.

Neely is a 2016 graduate of the MFA program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, which has produced some artists making waves the past couple of years. “UNC-G grads are creating diverse work — multifaceted,” she says.

Indeed. There’s Neely, whose work looks at gestural abstraction. Then there’s 2017 MFA graduates Charles Williams and Sherrill Roland. Williams’ work depicts historical moments and social commentary, while Roland documents his life through the Jumpsuit Project.

Plus there’s Sheena Rose, a Fulbright scholar from Barbados who also came through the program. She’s also doing dope things

Neely is excited and proud to be part of this group, and she’s ready for the what’s next. “I feel fortunate to be making work and emerging out of academia to make work on a larger scale,” she says.

The immediate future for Neely is to prepare for a residency in Vermont, then back in Greensboro to teach at NC A&T in the fall.

“17 feet away” at Lump is a great start, and will be on view through July 1.

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