A need for artwork around the college arose over two years ago when planned renovations began on the buildings on the downtown campus. These upgrades have created new open spaces, including study nodes, large open corner corners, and long, bare hallway walls that seem to extend into infinity. In other words, a clean canvas.
What emerged from this delicious dilemma was an opportunity to build something not only new and fresh, but also the ability to ignite an entire community. The well-placed tease to lead this project is long-time art enthusiast Julie Ashlock, Ed.D., director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching.
Ashlock’s joy for art developed when she was a child. As a kindergarten child, her painting of a duck was so impressive that her teacher exhibited it at the Madison Children’s Museum in an exhibition of works for children. She has since set her standards very high. It is one of his many leadership qualities that have allowed the Community Art Committee to thrive.
âI have tried to be very open to suggestions on what we should focus on and honor the ideas that different members bring to the table,â she said. âThe positivity and smiles I see when I look at other committee members are contagious. I can say that the other members are really happy to be there and all have a love for the arts themselves; they want to support the arts in the community and at MATC.
Despite a global pandemic, the Committee set to work on its review of the candidates and their proposals. In the end, a total of 13 artists were selected, including muralist Byada and photographer Libby Sutton.
When ESL student and artist Byada arrived in the United States from her native Thailand, she was in awe of what she saw, expressive murals defying the emotions of the beholder with her messages. The Thai artist immediately knew she wanted to incorporate this style into what she had learned in her homeland. Fast forward ten years and his work leaves art lovers in awe.
âComing to the US what really hit me was all the amazing murals and street art that can really capture the moment and the feelings that are hard to talk about in society,â Byada said. .
The work she created for the Community Art Collection is called âJust Find Yourself and be Yourselfâ. It has become one of the most popular pieces in the collection, serving as the flagship selection on the Gallery Night MKE website. The myriad of colors and shapes in the painting immediately attracts the attention of its viewer. This style was created with intention by his artist.
âHonestly, I would especially like the person passing by to have a calm and happy time in the midst of all of our hectic days,â she said. âLike when we walk through traffic and crowds and take a shortcut that brings us to a view of the lake and the passing clouds. A moment of freedom from all the things we used to do and have to do, âshe said with a laugh.
âIn fact, life is a lot of work and I hope my art can be like a connection to bring forth fond memories and a smile from a relaxed heart, even for a little while,â Byada added.
While Byada creates magic with a brush, Sutton uses his imagination to create art through the end of a lens, his camera.
The sophomore photography student describes her style as graphic and often abstract. “I was inspired by a quote from Claude Monet,” ‘To see we have to forget the name of the thing we are looking at, “she said. Her words always come to my mind when I photography, âsays Sutton.
The photographs submitted by Sutton echoed Monet’s words perfectly. She submitted abstract photographs of the windows at Bradley Technical High School, the east wall of the US Bank building, and a wall under the Lincoln Avenue Bridge. This created a unique representation of well-known structures with a unique perspective. She will replicate the idea with her art installation in college.
âThe subject of my project will be something that MATC students, faculty and staff will see every day – parts of buildings on the downtown MATC campus. I hope to present the very familiar in a new light. These images represent what is possible when you look at something differently, how a change of perspective can change you, âshe said.
Sutton strives to give new meaning and definition to his subjects by creating the extraordinary out of the ordinary. His creativity is effortless, perhaps because photography is a newly discovered passion. Originally from Milwaukee, she has been a local hospital pharmacist for over 10 years, but has always had a deep appreciation for the power of visual media and their ability to tell a story, stir emotions and inspire.
The collection of works of art, including Sutton’s âPerspectiveâ, can be viewed daily on the downtown campus in the hallways on the second floor of the main building, near the entrance to Building C and in the hallway on the second floor of the T building.
Each artist was paid $ 2,500 for winning the competition, however, the joy that their work adds to the community is priceless.