For a new temporary exhibit at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center called “Resilience, Reflection, Rebuilding: Artists Respond to Covid-19,” local artists were asked to create a reflection of their experiences and feelings during the COVID-19 pandemic and to consider the pandemic as a catalyst toward change.
This is believed to be the first art exhibition in the region that aims to bring together artists and the community to make sense of these challenging times, in order to process, and heal together.
“The arts have the remarkable ability to create a sense of togetherness, belonging, and community,” said Fine Arts Coordinator Devin Graham. “They can help decrease stress, loneliness, and anxiety. They can provide opportunities to reflect, process experiences and feelings, imagine what our future might look like, and connect us through our common humanity.”
"Engaging Johnson County artists to help us reflect and respond to the pandemic can help us to process what’s happening in our community together in a thoughtful and meaningful way," added Sarah VanLanduyt of the Arts Council of Johnson County. "Not only do the arts have the ability to help us feel connected in a time of physical distancing, but they can also help us work through what we’re feeling and even imagine how and what our community might be in the future."
“Resilience, Reflection, Rebuilding: Artists Respond to Covid-19,” will be on view and free to the public in the Creative Commons area at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center beginning July 31 through Jan. 22. This show will also complement another local temporary exhibit at JCAHC called “Rising to the Challenge: Suburban Strength in Difficult Times,” which is presented by the Johnson County Museum. The exhibit is filled with stories of the Johnson County community rallying together in the face of economic hardship, natural disasters, war, and health crises.
“Resilience, Reflection, Rebuilding: Artists Respond to Covid-19,” which was produced in partnership with the Arts Council of Johnson County and the Johnson County Museum, was fast-tracked with an accelerated timeline to get it on display quickly.
“The call for entry closed on July 15 with 97 works of art submitted,” Graham said. “An external curatorial team worked rapidly to make determinations on July 16, and shared notifications to artists on July 17.”
In all, 64 works of art including painting, photography, mixed media, sculpture, textiles, and multi-media, were selected.
“I knew I had to make a piece to reflect this historical time period, something people could look at in the future and clearly see what was going on,” said Artist Adrian Marsh, whose work was among those selected. “And it is just that, as artists, historians, and art advocates for a better world, we felt compelled to provide a response to this pivotal period in our global history. In doing so, we were able to provide an outlet for our community during a time of great need as an essential resource.”
The curatorial team for this exhibit was comprised of Graham, who is also a mixed media artist; Allison Bowman, administrative assistant for the Arts Council of Johnson County and painter; Kwanza Humphrey, painter; Jason Piggie, photographer and videographer; and Andrew Ordonez, program supervisor for Imagine That! KC and mixed media artist.
Artwork in this exhibition will be voted on by the public and approved by the Johnson County Museum Collections Committee to become part of the museum’s permanent collection as part of its Collecting COVID-19 initiative. The winning artist(s) will be awarded a financial prize.
The collecting competition has been generously underwritten by the Johnson County Museum Foundation. The foundation is a not-for-profit partner of the Johnson County Museum that supports and promotes exhibit development, educational programs, and special events at the Johnson County Museum.
The Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center
is located at 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park.