Steckline Gallery opens with semester-long exhibit


Steckline Gallery will present “React/Reflect/Respond” throughout the fall 2020 semester. The exhibit contains work from more than 20 local artists who used the stay-at-home order and other pandemic-related issues for inspiration.

Two of the works have interactive elements: woven wall hangings by artist Amy Huser and a community-based project titled “The Scarf.”

Huser weaved together scraps of fabric into whimsical wall hangings titled “Little Thoughts.” These scraps of fabric are significant because on them people have written what they have learned through the pandemic, the recent civil unrest and the quarantine.

“Little Thoughts” — woven wall hangings by Amy Huser.

Gallery guests are invited to add their own thoughts on strips of fabric located beside the project. These thoughts will be given to Huser for future weavings.

The other interactive project, “The Scarf,” was started by Director of Steckline Gallery Shannon Johnston in March 2011 in response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“A hand-knit scarf is a personal, intimate gift. There’s an investment of time and thought from the maker and the receiver wears it wrapped around them like a hug,” said Johnston.

Johnston’s scarf spans more than the length of the gallery.

“My inclination after a disaster, like the tsunami in Japan almost 10 years ago or the coronavirus, is to want to reach out and embrace people who are hurting. Through ‘The Scarf,’ I’ve seen many (people) feel the same way. There are still knitting needles on both ends of it so anyone can come and add as many stitches as they wish as a way of embracing someone.”

The final group of work is a series of digital images facilitated by Hugo Zelada-Romero and includes many local artists.

These images are a modern take on the surrealist drawing game the “Exquisite Corpse” in which people take turns drawing into someone else’s drawing.

As a way for artists to connect and stay creative and collaborative during the stay-at-home order, artists started sending digital images to each other. When received, the image would be altered, whether something was added or taken away, before passing the image on to the next person. 

Two examples of art inspired by the “Exquisite Corpse” created by a group of local artists.

“All in all we’re just really excited and thankful that Steckline is open again and showing great work,” said Johnston. “With all the changes on campus moving classrooms for social distancing, I’m seeing lots of new faces in De Mattias (Hall) and I hope they take the opportunity to check out the gallery.”

The gallery is open for visitors from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Steckline Gallery will host three virtual Art for Lunch events this semester. The first will be curatorial talk with Johnston at noon Thursday, Oct. 8. She will speak about the conceptual show’s development and process and “The Scarf.”

The second Art for Lunch will be with Huser at noon Tuesday, Oct. 27, during which Huser will be talking about her work, “Little Thoughts.

The third show will feature Zelada-Romero, who will discuss “Exquisite Corpse.” The date has not been finalized but is projected to be held in mid-November.

All talks will be approximately one hour including time for questions and discussion. All Art for Lunches can be accessed through Zoom. For access, contact [email protected].

The gallery was shut down in March and all remaining shows for the semester were canceled, including its first-ever senior showcase. Johnston is hoping that next semester she will be able to host monthly exhibits as well as a senior showcase in May.

“I really didn’t know until late July what this semester could look like for Steckline. I’m very grateful for (Director of Theatre) Mark Mannette who affirmed my feeling that we couldn’t let the gallery sit empty for a whole semester and provided a great sounding board as I brainstormed possibilities.”



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