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Community Art Sparks Dialogue

Photos, paintings, poems and other art forms cry out to be heard from the “Works on Social Commentary” gallery sponsored by CELTS and BCC centers in Bruce-Trades.

Best in Show: Molly Carmichael's creation "Hungry Hands"

More than 15 different art pieces depicting social and economical situations taking place around the world were submitted to the "Works on Social Commentary" gallery to be judged, including pieces from Peru, Nicaragua, Ghana and Cambodia.

In addition to a collection of art that showed a variety of worldwide social issues, Jared Johnson, mastermind of the gallery and BC student, envisioned art viewers to express their feelings about the art to others. "It is our hope that this gallery will stimulate much needed dialogue on the issues presented so that people can begin to think about how to solve them," said Johnson.

Art work was contributed from not only BC students, but also groups from around community such as the local area schools and the Boy's and Girl's Club. Berea Community Elementary School's third grade class created a sculpture designed from newspaper, plastic cups, masking tape and one dead wasp. It was entitled, "Do Not Litter."

Although there were multiple works that were worthy of honor, ultimately one had to be selected for first prize. Molly Carmichael received "best in show" for her creation of "Hungry Hands," a sculpture of hands, created from wood shavings, reaching for money dangling above it.

Another of the works that raised a lot of discussion on opening night depicted the genocide in Cambodia. Adrienne Keller's artwork, called "No Voice," is a compilation of photos of the horror that Cambodians dealt with during the genocide. The background, a chalkboard, reads: "129 mass graves filled with 8,985 corpses…" This work received an honorable mention.

Another work that was awarded honorable mention was "Hush Little Babies" which depicts a young black child holding a shot gun and has horrific poem that talks about training youth to be murderers. "Hush Little Babies" was painted by Patrick Bradford and the poem was written by Christopher Hayes.

The gallery also included a painting entitled "Faceless (A Lamentation for Silent Victims)" by Jared Manes. The painting has black background and brick red circle encompassing the middle representing senseless tragedy and loss of life. ""Faceless" is a reflection on the victim whose face has never dawned on CNN or whose voice can never be heard and whose crime is simply living in the wrong place at the wrong time," reads the artist statement.

The idea for the gallery came to Johnson, an amateur artist, one day while he was painting. The painting developed into an abstract commentary on diversity. "I enjoyed the piece, but thought I would never feel comfortable displaying it in a gallery," commented Johnson. He decided to "create a gallery where any person, regardless of talent, could express their views on a social issue through a visual artistic media."

The gallery was a success in the eyes of Johnson because it succeeded in sparking dialogue among onlookers. "I heard people discussing their views on some of the issues that were raised by the artworks," said Johnson. "Some people were agreeing with what the artist had to say, some blatantly disagreed, and still others had no clue what the artist was trying to say."

The student/staff committee who worked with Johnson to turn the idea into a reality included Mikita Weaver, Leah Cushman, Riyam Bashir, and Ashley Chochrane.

The gallery will be open until April 15.

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