The McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington is trying something new in conjunction with its annual Holiday Treasures Exhibition and Sale.
Each week, a different artist will be in residence in the Sales Gallery, allowing visitors to watch their creative process in action.
This is the first year for the artist residency workshop, said Doug Johnson, director of the MCAC. Johnson noted that each week, a new artist can showcase their work and engage with the community. Everything the artists create during the residency will go up for sale in the gallery.
Natalie Wetzel is an encaustic and mixed media painter. After having taken a year off from her creative work, Wetzel embraced the opportunity to get to work again within the artist residency.
“I had stepped back from making art and went through some transitions in my life. I feel like this was the kick I needed to get busy painting again. It’s been really great.”
The Arts Center wanted to feature a variety of artists and mediums during the residency workshop.
“The benefit of that is that we had Kara Kirchner, who works in felt, do some sculptures, plus other artists from around the spectrum. It’s great to have folks who are doing something unusual and different, especially if it’s not something familiar. If they haven’t seen someone do encaustics or felting before, it’s a real showcase. And we’re happy about that.”
“We’ve had steady crowds come in and the artists have been able to respond to people in the community that stop by, and so it’s been a great exchange of ideas.”
Wetzel granted that at first it was a little intimidating to have an audience watch as she created her works. But then she hit on the idea to invite the guests to join with her and create their own art to take home with them.
“Then I’m not in it alone,” she laughed. “Seeing their joy and the interaction, it made them more connected to what I was doing.”
The Artist Workshop Residents program continues as the McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington through Dec. 15.
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