Light and dark hues contrast with sharp yet soft strokes on the walls, filling Lamarche Gallery with emotions. Words and paintings are two of the media which young local artists use to channel their inner creativity in the Telling Room x ArtVan exhibit, which opened in the Lamarche Gallery today.
The collaborative exhibit combines the forces of The Telling Room, a Portland-based writing workshop, and ArtVan, a mobile art therapy organization. Where one aims to nurture literary confidence among young authors, the other provides underserved youth an environment for artistic creation.
The Telling Room writers based their work on nature-focused paintings from the Portland Museum of Art, embracing themes of self, growth and relationships. ArtVan artists then created paintings and drawings based on their interpretations of the Telling Room students’ writing.
Julianna Kiley ’20, a summer intern at The Telling Room, and Jessica Bae ’22, a summer intern at ArtVan, found their respective internships to be surprisingly interrelated in the communities they served. The two decided to bridge the works done by the two organizations.
“I chose to collaborate with The Telling Room because I think writing and painting are two really great ways to express how people feel,” said Bae. “They haven’t done a collaboration before and it just seemed like a very natural collaboration to have an exhibit of the two.”
The two hoped to teach aspiring creatives how art and the written word are connected.
“We thought it was cool to have Telling Room students and Art Van students have both of their work up on display together [to] see how they respond to each other and how the work is in communication [with each other],” Kiley said.
Since the artists and writers ranged in age from three to 16 years old, Kiley and Bae assisted students with the creative process.
“The youngest kids who did art for the show are just three or four, and they can’t, they don’t really understand words that [well],” said Bae. “I wouldn’t give them a piece of paper. Instead, I broke up stories into sentences and even words and then they could paint or draw based on what they thought when they heard those words.”
The work of these organizations tends to stay between the creators and their instructors. But by giving the students a chance to produce work for exhibition, Bae and Kiley aim to show the students—and the Bowdoin community—that their work is worth displaying.
“We just want to showcase youth writers and artists and the work that they’ve done and show that it has value. It matters,” Kiley said.
An opening reception for the exhibit will take place today at 4 p.m. in the Lamarche Gallery. Students from The Telling Room and ArtVan will attend the opening, allowing them to see their work on display and interact with the College community.