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'Subdivision' Has Open Door Policy For Artists

There's been a transformation at the University Galleries in Uptown Normal with a new installation that is slowing evolving through a series of artist collaborations.

Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson have built a welcoming community of seven framed-out wooden facades, with decals of picket fences and whimsical bubbles. But that's just the starting point on this art exhibition. The artists are also acting as curators of their own creation, inviting additional artists to come in on a weekly basis to make one of the facades their own and manipulate the structure any way they choose.  

As  artists as well as curators at the University of Illinois Springfield's gallery,  Robinson and Lacher are looking to blur the lines even further between curator and artist in the exhibition, Subdivision. "We're mudding the distinctions between authorship, between what it means to curate, what it means to make work and to allow those things to come together," said Robinson. "The idea was to create a show to create an environment where it's part of our work to invite other artists to come in and respond to that environment."

"It seemed very appropriate to think about housing structures, to think about artists coming together, a type of community that gets established," added Robinson.  "We think a lot about relationships as important to our work, relationships that we forge with our community, with people who come in and see the work and with other artists that we work with."

One of the artists invited to join in Subdivision is Erin Hayden, whose whimsical-looking addition, called Pretty Feelings, uses sparkles, giant bottle of nail polish and a video installation to explore  contemporary cultural criticism. "I was a little bit nervous that they would be okay with me painting large butterflies on the walls," admitted Hayden. "I know their sensibilities and it's great to know that they're encouraging me to work in my magic as well. I've been trying to make work that is humor, and at the same time strong -- very obviously girl power."

Hayden's installation explores the pressures women feel to always look beautiful.  She's joined in Subdivision by artists Selina Trepp, Andy Roche, Amanda Bowles, Alejandro T. Acierto, Thad Kellstadt, Melissa Oresky and Zak Boerger.

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Reporter, content producer and former All Things Considered host, Laura Kennedy is a native of the Midwest who occasionally affects an English accent just for the heck of it. Related to two U.S. presidents, Kennedy appalled her family by going into show business.