One of the more than 60 artists listed in the Bellefonte Art Museum’s registry is Elody Gyekis. Here is her statement:
Elody Gyekis was born in Lewisburg and grew up in Penns Valley. She earned her bachelor of fine arts in painting and ceramics from Penn State with honors in visual arts and civic and community engagement and minors in sociology and civic and community engagement.
Her artwork includes painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, graphic design, video, and photography. She is currently a resident artist at the Green Drake Gallery and Arts Center where she also curates monthly juried special exhibits with Karl Leitzel. Since 2006, Elody has also been organizing large-scale community mural projects in which hundreds of participants come together to collaboratively brainstorm, design, and paint the murals. She brings together the community’s ideas into a collaborative design, and then transforms that design into a paint-by-number mural that the community participants then help to complete, fostering community pride and collective identity.
Her murals include the Valley Roots Community Mural Project 2008 in Millheim, three murals in Harrisburg, and the Dreams Take Flight Mural Project 2010 in State College (organized with Natalia Pilato). In 2012, she was the lead artist for the Colors of Music community mural, also in State College, organized by Natalia Pilato. She completed a community mural in Huntingdon and did two other small murals in State College. She has presented her community mural work and research at various conferences including National Art Education Association annual conferences as well as state conferences in both art education and in public health. Elody also teaches painting and ceramics classes at various levels.
Learn more about Elody from Patty Satalia’s radio interview as part of the Pennsylvania People series: http://wpsu.org/radio/single_entry/LL-3485/papeople, or by visiting her website: elodyg.com.
In life we often come across objects that we are drawn to, and even if we do not know why, we need to have them. Sometimes we casually come across other similar objects and sometimes we become obsessed with the hunt for objects to add to our collections. Some of us become the curator of our own home, arranging and rearranging our objects and collections to show them off to their best advantage, while others stash our collections in disorganized piles behind closet doors or packed away in boxes, unseen for years at a time. In either case, these objects are treasures, valued for the feelings and memories they induce. We cherish these items, connecting ourselves to them and finding the beauty they contain. Often, these beautiful and precious objects take on lives of their own, affecting our lives and creating new worlds in the spaces around them.
For several years, my work has been exploring this human impulse to collect things, but it has primarily focused on what adults collect and keep from their pasts and how these objects create our sense of place, home and identity. My focus shifted to toys and childhood objects when I came across a display of children’s collections at a Grange Fair in rural Pennsylvania. In between the drawing contests, quilt contest, baking contests, and vegetable contests was a collection contest. Dozens of rows of two-foot cube wooden boxes with Plexiglas fronts, each filled with a carefully arranged display of a child’s collection. I was instantly fascinated and began photographed these displays and came back the following year to document more.
These images of toy collections became the inspiration for this series of paintings. In each work I have created an imaginative world created from combining scenes from my own life for select toys from within each collection to exist in, just as these toys exist within a fantasy world for the children who own and interact with them. The resulting paintings play with the line where “cute” and “creepy” converge as these plastic creatures interact and ignore each other and their fantasy landscapes.
The Bellefonte Art Museum celebrates the human spirit through the arts, recognizing the importance of art in our lives. In 2011, the museum experienced a large increase in attendance, private donations and membership and completed refurbishing the historic Linn House. The museum opened three new galleries: the Children’s Creativity Center, the Anna Wagner Keichline Gallery and the new Louise Bloom Sieg Gallery. The museum is opened Friday through Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Phone 814.355.4280