Conceived of and curated by Janet Lewis, PSU Art Instructor and Managing Member of ArtForms Gallery in downtown Pittsburg, Kansas.
Curator’s Statement: This exhibit was designed as a collaborative community event, meaning it was open to everyone and that being an artist was not a requirement for participation. Individuals were asked to consider how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had changed their vision for 2020 and to express this artistically by making or decorating a unique pair of spectacles. They were challenged to do this using only materials they had on hand at home, or wherever they were sheltered in place, during the initial lockdown phase of the pandemic in the Spring of 2020.
Students who were enrolled in my courses at that time were assigned to participate in this exhibit, as the first of three creative challenges that I developed in lieu of traditional studio assignments, which seemed to be an impossibility given the abrupt move to online course delivery. The following courses are represented in the REFOCUS 2020 Online Exhibit: • ART 200: Visual Thinking: 3D Processes • ART 217: Crafts I • ART 322: Jewelry Design II • ART 561: Small-Scale Metalsmithing
In addition to creating a pair of visionary glasses, students in these courses were also asked to write about how their lives had changed in the short three-week time span prior to the University and our communities going on lockdown. Additionally, they also reflected back and wrote about the experience of creating their glasses at home using only existing resources, as opposed to working in a fully equipped PSU art studio with their classmates.
Community members were not asked to complete these written components in order to participate. Some of these participants were my fellow artists at ArtForms Gallery, and others were community members who had seen the call for entries on the Gallery’s social media. The online exhibit was hosted publicly on the ArtForms Gallery LLC Facebook page.
Additional participants included several of my friends and family, some who identify as artists and some who do not. While I truly appreciated their participation, I was left to wonder what the exhibit might have been if each of the many ideas mentioned to me had actually come to fruition and been submitted. Regardless, I was assured that the creative thinking and possibilities sparked by this challenge most certainly existed within as a welcome distraction during such an isolated, uncertain time--Janet Lewis.