Art center showcases first virtual gallery

Jul 1, 2020

While the Marion Art Center shut its doors due to the pandemic, it was still sharing a wide variety of art that reflected the prevalent emotions of the time through its first virtual gallery. 

The Art Center issued a call for entries in April, inviting artists and non-artists alike to submit ideas as to how they were living through uncertainty for an art exhibit of the same name. 

The group’s Executive Director, Jodi Stevens, said she got notes from many submittors saying that they didn’t consider themselves artists and had never submitted to a gallery before. She said the virtual exhibit was a “good opportunity for new artists.” 

The art they produced in the 66 submissions ranged from poems and paintings to photos and sculptures. There was also a wide range of emotional reactions to the trying circumstances of the pandemic. 

“Some people are more optimistic than others,” Stevens said. “We don’t want to censor anyone for talking about their feelings.” 

She said the feelings evoked by art pieces range from hard reminders of a deadly pandemic  to something beautiful. 

Stevens said she particularly loves the small rocks that are painted with positive sayings that appear both around Marion and as part of the exhibit  

Though the exhibit isn’t social in the same way that a gallery opening is, Stevens says that she feels the exhibit has brought members and fans together somewhat, as she has gotten some messages from them saying “thanks for sharing.” 

In some cases, the act of creating art became social as well. Paula Stebbins Becker started making mini collages from items and fabrics that she had around the house and challenged herself to post them online for 30 days.  

“Some days I don’t feel genuine inspiration, I feel sad and concerned for the suffering that people all over the world are experiencing. I almost stopped my daily posts several times,” Becker said. “It was the feedback and comments from friends that encouraged me. I realized that many people look forward to seeing the daily 'still lives' and they help to brighten their spirits!"

Felt crafter Anna Kristina Goransson also wanted to interact with others through her art, though more through nature than social media. 

As she explains: 

“I installed little felted sculptures in my local woods and created an art scavenger hunt for people to discover. I have always wanted to install in nature and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to help stave off boredom for the neighborhood. People seemed to really appreciate it." 

The youngest participant was 8 years old, the son of the Art Center’s bookkeeper, who submitted a school project. 

Some art pieces reflected on life events pushed back by the pandemic. Designed Diane Kelley showcased the sculptures she made for her daughter’s wedding, originally planned for March, but then rescheduled. 

Others showed a greater connection with mundane objects encountered at home. 

Kyle Riseley acknowledged that she was privileged to be able to shelter in place at home, but also said “sheltering in place was not a sentence, it was an opportunity to pause and closely examine some of the things I had accumulated in a lifetime.”