Following a year of dark moments and deep loss, local artists created an exhibit to shine a little light in Frederick.
The “Luminaire” group exhibition features the work of eight local artists and one guest artist from New York City. Each piece emits light in the dark Side Gallery of the Griffin Art Center at 4 W. 5th Street.
Curator and artist Rula Jones, a resident of Griffin Art Center, was inspired to facilitate a gallery of light when she found herself dwelling on the gloomy state of the world.
“I woke up at 3 a.m. feeling so powerless,” she said at the gallery Saturday. “A lot of people consider it a dark year, 2020 ... So let’s bring light.”
Relinquishing the control curators usually afford themselves, Jones instructed the artists to create whatever they wanted — as long as it emitted light. The results were vastly different mediums and themes. Some works were created with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, while others were not.
Sheryl Massaro entwined an American flag pattern mask with a string of star-shaped lights and named it, “The Healing,” to memorialize the lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones said.
Craig Cavin transformed the cast he wore during radiation treatment for cancer to make it the center of his luminary, surrounded and filled by bright red light.
Jones used clay and paint to express her spirituality in 13 biomorphic forms. She calls it, “Bioluminescence,” which feels fitting. The oceanic shapes mounted to the wall glow under a black light. Later, Jones realized the art was probably a manifestation of her subconsciously missing the beach, which she did not visit this year due to the pandemic.
“For me, nature is very much about spirituality,” she said.
Married couple Ann Andrex and John Beutler, of Frederick, came to support artist Robert Strasser and to see what the rest of the exhibit entailed. Andrex is also manager of the Blanches Ames online gallery for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick.
“This sounded like such a cool idea for a show ... in this time of darkness,” Andrex said.
Strasser’s work features twisting and turning white lights that cross like an infinity symbol hanging in the air. On the wall behind it cling white shapes that remind one of blooming flowers from afar — but up close reveal hexagons with many details — mounted on dark circles. Beside them hangs a poem penned by Strasser. It mentions DNA, compound, equilibrium and change. It is titled, “Nothing Without Light.”
While he admired Strasser’s work, Beutler was also drawn to Caitlin Gill’s “The Giving Tree I and II.” In the piece, shelf fungus lines the wall. Like an organic piece of furniture, it holds natural elements for display. In her curator essay, Jones writes the artwork “... addresses the very real dichotomy of nature itself, ugly and perverse while also beautiful and magical.”
Every viewer may find something different in these displays of art, but Jones sees examples of how one combats feelings of hopelessness or sorrow by simply creating.
The free exhibit started in early December and runs through Feb. 6., open on Friday from 4to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. More information can be found online at luminaireartexhibition.com or on Facebook.