MOORESVILLE – The ballerina – based on a photograph of a student practicing at Dance Davidson – gracefully throws back her arms as if in flight.

When the image’s creator, Cornelius resident Larry Duke, isn’t working as an executive recruiter for NextGen DNA, he turns to his paintbrush and palette knife for artistic therapy.

Four of his oil paintings will be displayed at Andre Christine Gallery’s mixed media winter show, which opened Nov. 16. It'll feature the work of 18 North Carolinian artists and will stay up until the second week of January.

“The subject matter (of dancers) I think presents natural beauty and movement,” Duke said. “I’ve always liked working with the physical form. I always used to draw portraits when I was a kid. You can always tell if you did a good job. It looks like them or it doesn’t.”

Duke paints gestures and sometimes the parts of the body, making them fall off the side of his canvas. But your brain will fill in the missing hand or foot, he said.

Around the corner from Duke’s work are two acrylic paintings by Sherry DeGrandchamp, of Sherrills Ford.

“One of the things I care about and feel strongly about is education,” she said. “And I feel like everyone – especially women – deserve an education.”

In “The Enlightenment of Eve,” the matriarch of Christianity sits absorbed in a book in the Garden of Eden. The trunk of the Tree of Knowledge is composed of the sinews of a woman’s body, twisted together, with branches sprouting out of her head. Here she has the power to create and pass on knowledge to others like her children, DeGrandchamp said.

DeGrandchamp was the first person in her family to go to college and paid her way through classes.

Although many people today believe it’s wrong that so many Muslim women are uneducated, it wasn’t long ago that many Christian women weren’t allowed in schools either, she said.

Before researching the burka, DeGrandchamp saw it as a symbol of oppression, angering her.

“I found that some women like to wear the burka. It’s an expression of their faith, and they feel comfortable. It’s more that I think they should have the freedom to wear or not wear it,” she said.

The fiery colors of her “Through the Burka,” show the slit its wearer must view the world through.

The work is dedicated to Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban last year for championing women’s right to learn.

Malala's seen on a cross – a symbol of sacrifice – rising high above a tiny Mecca below, with a Christian and Muslim guardian angel overhead.

“What I’m trying to say is that I think women are the key to helping each other regardless of what religion they are,” DeGrandchamp said.

Spirals of flame literally burn the burka away, thus giving the painting’s title a dual meaning: Women can “get through” a difficult time and find peace and freedom on the other side.

Want to go? Andre Christine Gallery showcases 18 North Carolina artists 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays through the second week of January at 148 Ervin Road, Mooresville.

Details:  www.andrechristinegallery.com or 704-664-1164.