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Artist Paula Eubanks stands next to some of her pieces and works by Sid Summerhill at Glynn Visual Arts.

Growing up as an only child, Paula Eubanks had to get creative when it came to entertaining herself. She did something many children do — she conjured up an imaginary friend.

“I grew up in Jesup, and I didn’t have any brothers or sisters so I created my friend, Jimmy King. We’d play together every day and I would even make my mother set a place for him at the table,” Eubanks recalled with a laugh. “After I got older and made more friends, I told my mother that Jimmy went to Savannah to live with his grandmother.”

Jimmy turned out to be an embodiment of creativity for Eubanks. And while he was the first, he certainly wasn’t the last. She went on the pursue art at the University of Georgia, gravitating toward photography. While she didn’t have a concrete plan for her future career, Eubanks knew that it must be something inline with her artistic nature.

“I was an art education major because I sat down with an adviser, and she asked what my major was ... I thought, ‘Art is my major.’ She said ‘Well, you look like an art education major’ so she just put that down,” she said. “I wish I could say I was very self directed and driven, but I really didn’t know what I was doing.”

Eubanks’ collegiate career proceeded in similar fashion as her teachers and advisers led her through undergraduate and graduate level programs. Eventually, she received her doctorate in art education. While she did spend time teaching, she found an equally fulfilling passion in creating art herself, namely photography.

But, true to her nature, she enjoyed manipulating pictures to offer something entirely her own. In the days before Photoshop, that took much more effort, of course, requiring painstaking work with a X-Acto blade. Today, she can move and change images with a few clicks of the mouse. Both, however, gave her the ability to breathe life and personality into exciting projects.

“I took straight photographs for a while but ... I dunno I always end up in the ‘weird zone.’ Now, I say that Jimmy King lives in my computer because he helps me with creating the pictures,” she said with a laugh.

While her work may be seen as a bit unconventional, there is no disputing its power. Eubanks uses her talent to share messages about important topics. One such effort is featured in her upcoming exhibit, the Sea Level Series, which will be on display along with pieces by local sculptor Sid Summerhill at Glynn Visual Art on St. Simons Island.

The collective exhibit is titled, “R:I:S:E,” and the two artists’ work meshes well to depict a moving visual statement. The opening for R:I:S:E will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Glynn Visual Arts, 106 Island Drive, St. Simons Island.

“I think our work goes very well together. His work is 3D and of course mine is two dimensional but they complement each other very well,” she said. “Sid is amazing ... I just love him.”

The exhibit also allows her to share a passionate perspective on rising tides and climate change. Eubanks has juxtaposed numerous local and regional landmarks with incoming tide waters. Some of the locations she photographed include Fort Frederica, Cumberland Island, Ossabaw Island, as well as Fort Clinch and Fort Pulaski. She often took several pictures and melded them together to produce the desired effect, one that Eubanks hopes will make an impression on those who visit the gallery.

“I’ve lived on the coast all my life so I’ve seen the changes. We really have to start paying attention to it. We have to understand what we’re doing to the earth,” she said.

Coastal People appears Tuesdays. Contact Lindsey Adkison at ladkison@thebrunswicknews.com or at 265-8320, ext. 346 to suggest a person for a column.

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