Local artists have been given an outlet to vent about the issues weighing on their minds in a new show at the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania.
Visitors have a chance to see the art work inspired by politics, the environment, women’s rights and more during “Artists Take A Stand,” which runs through March 26. An opening reception will be held from 7-9 p.m. March 24, with poetry readings and music from 2-4 p.m. March 26.
After November’s presidential election, many local artists were looking for ways to express themselves about the political situation, and the Art Alliance wanted to provide them that opportunity. The result has been an outpouring of interest and a huge number of entries. The average Art Alliance exhibit attracts 30-50 entries — this show has 84.
“We tried to make it clear that artists across the political spectrum are welcome to participate,” State College artist and exhibition chairwoman Mary Lee Kerr said. “The Art Alliance is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization.”
“Artists Take a Stand” is open to all and not juried, and entry for the show was free thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor.
“This exhibition was first of all an opportunity for artists to express what they’re feeling and thinking about the current state of politics,” Kerr said. “We predict this exhibit will stir emotions and spark dialogue about current issues. It seems like a good way to bring people together in a time of division.”
A group painting created in January at artist Karen Deutsch’s State College home will be for sale in a silent auction at the show with proceeds going to the American Civil Liberties Union.
“All of us had worked in some capacity for the Clinton campaign, and I thought about having an open house on Inauguration Day to gather like-minded individuals, who were not attending the Women’s March, to chill and share ideas,” Deutsch said. “I had this large unfinished canvas, and I thought everyone who wanted to could have a hand at an artistic statement to illustrate our anger.”
They started it a few days before Inauguration Day, and when guests arrived they contributed with words and pictures that would become the finished work. People brought ideas, petitions, stamped postcards and poems. They ate, drank, listened to music and discussed what to do.
“When I heard about ‘Artists Take a Stand,’ I thought our project would be a perfect addition,” Deutsch said. “As the weeks went on, more friends stopped by to add their marks, and as the daily news became more frightening, I titled the piece, ‘House of Cards.’ ”
State College artist Joan Koester’s painting, “Limitations of Fear,” was done in 2010, but she thinks it speaks to the major issues society faces today.
“This painting represents a big, bold spirit confined by cultural norms that just don’t fit — don’t allow the space and freedom for the person to express their true nature,” she said. “It speaks to today’s political concerns, women’s rights, freedom for all races, religions and sexual identities and freedom to be who and what you are without fear — in a world big enough for you to fit.”
Kerr said what she has seen so far indicates that people are concerned about government threats to human rights, feel they are not being represented by the government and worry about issues like climate change.
“They’ve expressed these ideas through paintings, collages, sculptures and mixed-media works, using dark humor, symbolism and satire,” she said.
“I anticipate this will be widely discussed and stoke the fires of resistance even more,” Deutsch said. “People in State College, like other areas around the country, have already formed issue driven groups that have been persistent and relentless in writing and calling our representatives.”
IF YOU GO
- What: “Artists Take A Stand”
- When: through March 26; opening reception 7-9 p.m. March 24
- Where: Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania, 818 Pike St., Lemont
- Info: www.artalliancepa.org