We each have our own idea of what makes a home: a place of shelter, protection, refuge, comfort, family, respite.
Other living things create and build habitats for sanctuary, safety and nourishment. Home often means security and belonging, and it can form feelings and memories of comfort as well as discomfort.
This is the essence of “House, Habitat, Home: A Community Art Exhibition,” now open in the University Center on Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus. Organized by the College of Public Service and Community Solutions, the exhibit provides individuals, schools and community organizations the opportunity to share their art with thousands of people in the downtown ASU community, placing art created by working professionals alongside emerging artists of all ages.
The exhibition, which runs through May 4, is displayed on the first, second and third floors of the University Center, 411 N. Central Ave, Phoenix, and features more than 160 works of art submitted for display in a response to a community-wide call to artists. Included are works of various media such as paintings, collages, pencil drawings, sculpture — all created out of a desire to celebrate the meaning of home.
Beverly K. Brandt, Professor Emerita with the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, provides a calming image of home in her watercolor, "Earth, Air, Water: At Home by the Bay." In cool greens and blues, homes along the water are depicted in a manner that is harmonious with the nature in which they are situated.
“My favorite medium is watercolor. It is so difficult to work with; yet, the results can be breathtaking if done right,” she said.
Brandt, who has only recently become familiar with the community arts program, said, “What a great opportunity to attract work from all ages, all backgrounds, diverse media, diverse visions. The ASU Downtown campus is having a profound effect on Phoenix, and a community arts program seems like a great way to celebrate the changes that have come about since ASU began showing a greater presence in the downtown area."
Carson Bilger, a teacher at Madison Simis in Phoenix, has had his art students participate in three community art exhibitions at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. This year, the students chose to create colorful and imaginative homes by using paint, Styrofoam, paper and other three-dimensional materials.
Bilger stated, “I use it as an opportunity for students who are excelling and interested in the arts to create collaborative pieces. ... Having an end goal, like displaying at ASU, is a great motivating factor for the students to create high-quality pieces and work their hardest. “
In one of her submitted works, "Agave," ASU art student Amanda Johnson feels that she was able to discover and reflect on her newfound love of the desert and desert botanicals. Johnson decided to participate in the exhibition because the title grabbed her attention.
“It’s amazing how one word can evoke so many different emotions,” she said. “I think it is important to have an arts community that ties all of the campuses together ... to see how we all influence each other and come together to make things happen.”
James Lowman, an artist in a group called Art Challenge, encouraged the group’s nine members to submit works of art.
“[We] had just completed a series of pieces with the topic ‘Show Me Where You Live.’ This seemed to match with the ‘House, Habitat, Home’ theme,” he said.
The group submitted paintings, prints, drawings, collages and works in other media. Art Challenge had been involved with the downtown art scene through First Fridays and was intrigued and excited about the locale of ASU’s downtown art exhibition.
Lowman stated, “Art lovers, passersby, and the general public are exposed to art that is often home grown, yet is amazingly expressive. Seeing a show of this nature is a real opportunity to experience a cross-section of our identity as a community. “
Through this exhibition, the college hoped to encourage artists to observe the world that we live in and to consider its wonder. The exhibition shares the explorations of ideas of home and habitat seen through artists’ eyes.
One of those artists is Rosemarie Dombrowski, lecturer at the Downtown Phoenix campus.
“I’m primarily a writer, so if I’m venturing away from pure text, I tend to gravitate towards mixed-media. I like to incorporate verse fragments into pieces that have an ‘arts and crafts’ aesthetic with an emphasis on sustainability,” she said. “I love being involved with projects that foster collaboration between ASU students, faculty, staff and the greater downtown community. This campus for me, represents the epicenter of that type of engagement.”
The Action, Advocacy, Arts program is part of an ongoing community exhibition series held each semester in University Center at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. The gallery is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for holidays. Guided tours may be arranged by contacting Carrie Tovar, curator of art, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Carrie Tovar
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