Art Installations in Downtown Farmington Created by UMF Students

Art Installations in Downtown Farmington Created by UMF Students

By Emily Mokler – Contributing Writer

UMF students gathered in the alleyways of downtown Farmington to create and perform art as part of the Water Bear Confabulum, an alternative arts festival hosted by the UMF Art Gallery.

The event included a 5k run, with proceeds benefitting local high school students attending UMF who have an interest in both the arts and the environment.

Photo Courtesy of Emily Mokler

Visitors saw the downtown change with art unfolding from UMF students and professionals. Students in a Drawing class drew each other in chalk, an exercise known as blind contouring. Abby Sanborn, a freshman Creative Writing, and Art major was one of the students drawing in the alleyway next to Renys with chalk. Each figure had distinct blocks of color.

Student working on a mural near the alleyway by the Homestead Bar & Bakery on Broadway. Photo Courtesy of Emily Mokler

“The point of the exercise is to draw what our eyes see, not what our mind sees,” Sanborn said as she rubbed the chalk into the wall, building up the vibrant color.

Following the sound of drums led to students dressed as animals, and statues of animals dressed like humans.  AJ Mae, a freshman, wore a gown made of trash bags and set up an installation using reflective, everyday objects ranging from party masks to CDs.

“Different people see themselves in different places and in different ways,” said Mae. According to Mae, the installation was inspired by how “the media frames how we see ourselves, and distorts our expectations.”

Another alley had large charcoal drawings of landscapes, and visitors were asked to smudge the original work into whatever they wanted with bread. A volunteer spoke about exhibits in Bonney Woods. There were interactive installations about asking for phrases

In Bonney Woods,“The Star-Spangled Banner” was playing faintly on the flute. The student playing the flute, who wore a pair of exaggerated legs in silver fabric in a kneeling position, reflected on the recent protests during pro football games.

Returning to downtown, dozens of other students gathered in the alleyway, participating in performance art. There were students dressed as robots, a rose, a punk with a four-foot high mohawk. One woman handed out kind words painted onto cardboard without saying a word. Another asked people to write down what they said when frustrated and place the words inside the empty head of a sculpted child.

Figures in Homestead Alleyway. Photo Courtesy of Emily Mokler

There was a small black dome in the center of the alleyway with a white sheet splattered with red. Pulling back the sheet revealed small LED candles inside. A hand reached out and said, “Keep your softness” while handing out soft plastic stuffing.

The Water Bear Confabulum surrounded visitors visually, auditorily, and mentally with art. To see more photos, search for “The Water Bear Confabulum” on Facebook.

Juliet Karelsen’s ‘Juliet’s Room: Recent Work’ On Display At UMF Art Gallery

Juliet Karelsen’s ‘Juliet’s Room: Recent Work’ On Display At UMF Art Gallery

By Sofia Vanoli, Contributing Writer

Artist Juliet Karelsen (Photo by Sofia Vanoli)

Artist Juliet Karelsen (Photo by Sofia Vanoli)

The UMF Art Gallery is hosting artist Juliet Karelsen for the third time with her new exhibition  “Juliet’s Room: Recent Work,” which is on display through March 12.

It is an exhibit appropriately described as a path from the natural world to the personal and emotional life of the New Yorker artist.

The first floor of the two-leveled Art Gallery holds the colorful exhibition “Lichen” that features abstract and vibrant “paintings” on linen with thread, embroidery floss and paint. They depict lichen, mushrooms, fiddleheads and mosses in a forest environment while seasons go by changing their colors from brown to green in each work.

“The downstairs is kind of like a forest, I would say. And I think people will really like it coming here in the middle of the winter,” said Karelsen. “It’s kind of an oasis, as someone once said,” explained the artist and longtime member of the Farmington community.

“I think it is an interesting and original way of portraying nature,” said Eva Schneider, UMF Language Teaching Assistant and attendee of the event. “The variety of mediums used by the artist is particularly creative,” she said while admiring one of Karelsen’s works in detail.

“I’m impressed because the works are not labeled so that leaves you to your imagination,” said Chris, a Farmington community member as he tried to name one of the lichen “paintings” located at the entrance hall which he noted was his favorite.

“The Apartment,” “Oma’s Gloves,” and “Sympathy Series” located upstairs explore the concepts of memory and loss in Karelsen’s life in diverse mediums such as gouache and needle point. Visitors can also find pieces of furniture from The Karelsen’s apartment in New York that the artist decided to make into art after her father died in 2013.

“Upstairs is more psychological, it’s more about the sense of loss and memory. And I think it’s particular for people who have lost their parents or their home. It really resonates,” said Karelsen when describing what visitors can find on the second floor of the Gallery.

In one of the tours around the exhibition during the opening reception, Karelsen fondly remembered where all the things were at her family home and she said they brought memories to her, pointing to her mother’s vanity where she would spend time with her heated curlers and lipsticks.

“The exhibition is very realistic, like it depicts someone’s life,” said Danielle Bowler, secondary education major. “My favorite artworks are the embroidered portraits of pill bottles.” They are part of “The Apartment” series and they represent how present they were in her life as her parents aged.

Farmington community member Greg Kimber agreed with Bowler. “I really like the paintings of the pill bottles because they remind me of a children’s illustration from when I was a kid.” The free interpretation and the personal connection with the artworks are present in each of them.

Anyone interested in the exhibit can visit the Art Gallery at 246 Main St. on  noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday, and by appointment.