By Lily Barnette and Ülvi Gitaliyev
On September 3rd, the Berea Arts Council organized its annual Community Art Exhibit. Painters, sculptors and other artists showed off their pieces, most of which were on sale. Kiana Mahjub, Program & Operation Manager of the Berea Arts Council, explained that “Every year, we host it and invite community members, local artists, everyone from Madison County and surrounding counties to join in and showcase their work for us. This is our largest one yet. We’ve had over 34 artists participate this year.”
The Berea Torch was able to interview multiple artists about their pieces and what art meant to them.
Nile presented his art piece The Travels of Thucydides: Cosmic Portraits and what it symbolizes.
“It really physically visualizes growth through hardship. Everybody faces it in many different ways throughout their lives. So I just wanted to reflect on myself and also express that in a way that could be taken in other people.”
Dana presented two paintings, each telling the story of Berea in a different way. The first one, on the bottom, is a painting based on a local Berea poem.
“We got a list of poems, and we got to choose from Bluegrass Park Bakers. I chose two of the poets who were from Berea, and I live in Berea, so it was really exciting, but I didn’t know that at the time. This one was a poem called ‘Desire’ by Libby Jones. We saw the poem, and then we had, ten days or something like that to turn around to match the poem. So this was actually inspired by her home. It was really fun.”
Her second work named Mary is from an event that happened in Berea during the winter.
“Two years ago, there was a really bad snowstorm. Yeah, that was our first semester ever. I went down and got a picture in front of the Catholic Church; this is the statue that’s in front of the Catholic Church. I just thought it was so funny that you have the watertower kind of behind Mary and just how those two pieces fit together. I found that really humorous.”
Angela spoke about the piece on the right the Old Weathered Barn at Sunset and how it helped her make new connections.
“There’s a picture that I took three years ago of the barn and a sunset, because I love sunsets, and I shared it on the Facebook group ‘Memories of Berea, Kentucky.’ Somebody shared my picture that I had shared in the group. A guy commented, ‘I grew up in that barn. I grew up with my family on that farm, playing in the barn as a kid.’ He reached out to me, and told me about him and his sister, they’re in their late 50s, early 60s now. They grew up in that barn, playing on that farm, and that was their family farm. They asked if I could do another meeting with them. To me, it was just a sunset and a barn, but to them, it was where they grew up.” A few days after the exhibit, Angela was able to meet with the family on the barn and paint the barn piece again,
Bugz made a piece called Cinger Geometries by using biodegradable and environmentally friendly materials.
“I started the leaf, and the flower came together separately. The leaves are actually originally made as part of a model for a large scale sculpture that I’m working on to install out at the Pinnacles, which is like, a huge monumental project that will require a lot of money and architecture…
I went to art school a million years ago and I graduated from the glass department. And so, I worked with glass and was a painter primarily, but I stepped away from a lot of that work, like, more and more. I worked also in theater for a long time, building props and sets. But a lot of that stuff is super toxic and not environmentally friendly, and will never biodegrade if there’s a natural disaster. So what I’ve been working towards for years now is trying to figure out how to transition my own use of material to something environmentally friendly so that whatever I’m making should, for some reason, end up flooded or destroyed, it won’t poison the earth. I couldn’t say the same for acrylic. The paint on the flower is made out of dirt, and it’s dirt that I collected. I’ve done a lot of traveling around the country, so some of it’s local dirt, and some of it is from Wyoming.”
For those who are interested in what other activities the Berea Arts Council sponsors, Kiana Mahjub said, “We host events every week here at the Arts Council for people to come and enjoy. Pretty much all of them are free to attend. Every Thursday, we have songwriters and literary open mic nights, so please come check it out!”
The gallery is open to all visitors from Wednesday to Friday through 12:00 to 5:30 pm. Entrance is free as well. If you want to go any Berea Arts Council events, you can visit their website here!