Ten Lawrence artists are making history in Canada. They are collaborating with a group of Canadian artists to create "Common Ground," the first collaborative international art exhibition ever shown in that nation's capital.
"It's the largest and the only international exhibit Ottawa has had," said Ann Kuckelman Cobb, one of the local artists. "It's a real opportunity for them to be recognized by the press."
"For Lawrence, it's a real positive thing," said Cathy Tisdale, another of the Lawrence artist. "It's an opportunity for us to go to Canada and for them to come here for a show, and for us to spend time with the Canadian artists and see how they use different techniques."
"Common Ground," which opens May 11 and runs through June 23, will feature 20 works by individual artists and separate collaborative pieces created by each country's group of participating artists.
In addition to Cobb and Tisdale, other Lawrence artists are Diana Dunkley, Laurie Culling, Jan Gaumnitz, Missy Hamilton, Susan Jordan, J. Geer Kellas, Nan Renbarger and Margaret Rose. Canadian artists are Audrey Churgin, Dawn Dale, Anna Frlan, Barbara Gamble, Kathleen Gillis, Roberta Huebener, Naz Ikramullah and Marie-France Nitski.
The idea for the show was ignited when Maureen Korp, curator for the show and author of "Sacred Art of the Earth," came to Lawrence in 2000 to give a talk at Kansas University. While on campus, she visited the "Women's Works" exhibition at the Museum of Anthropology, where artworks by the F.A.N. Club, a Lawrence women's art collective, were being shown.
She began talking with some of the F.A.N. Club members (all of the Lawrence artists in the Canada show are members of the collective, except Kellas) and suggested that the Lawrence group pair with a similar group of artists in Canada for a show.
Eventually the name "Common Ground" was selected for the exhibition, which will be shown in two Ottawa galleries the New City Hall Gallery and the Karsh-Masson Gallery. The works in the exhibit explore two commonalties between the countries: time and geography.
The artists in Ottawa and the artists in Lawrence created separate collages about each other's hometown. Photographs of Lawrence were cut and pasted together and sent to Ottawa; photographs of Ottawa were similarly cut and pasted and sent to Lawrence. Each group then interpreted the bits and pieces of each other's town for a collage.
For example, Dunkley said, each Lawrence artist received an 18- by 18-inch canvas on which to re-create some of the Ottawa images by using their own preferred medium. For example, Renbarger used textiles, while Hamilton used gold leafing.
"They are all in different media, styles and colors," Dunkley said.
The squares will be arranged into a 4 1/2- by 6-foot assemblage that will be presented as a gift to the City of Ottawa.
All of the Lawrence artists, except Kellas and Renbarger, will be in Ottawa for the show's opening. "Common Ground" will come to Lawrence in 2004 for display at the Lawrence Arts Center.