Oregon Public Broadcasting

An art exhibition wrapping up in Corvallis this weekend is offering a unique way of seeing the community. The show is Call and Response, and it's comprised of eight artists drawing inspiration from the city -- and each other.

Fiber artist Mariana Mace explains that six of the eight artists were involved in Corvallis' Gallery Nouveau. When the gallery closed during the recession, they were left without a creative home.

We just kind of looked at each other over some wine and pizza and said, "We're not done playing."

Abstract artist Alice Ann Eberman and fiber artist Karen Tornow came up with the idea of work the whole group could respond to.

Once a year, the eight artists choose a stimulus. This year's inspiration came from the city itself. They divided up a map of Corvallis into eight segments and dealt them out amongst themselves. Each artist took a month to explore his or her assigned section and make something inspired by a found object or place -- a "call."

At the end of the month, the group gathered and the artists brought their "calls," wrapped in paper bags, to hand off to each other. There was no conversation about the work or what inspired it. And in the subsequent month, each artist made a "response" work in reaction to the object they'd been given. A glass artist might make something in response to a woven basket. A photographer might respond to a sculpture.

They repeat the cycle for eight months until everyone has made something in response to the eight original works. The result: 64 pieces of community-inspired art that form the show.

"I think we all, for at least one piece, will say, 'What am I supposed to do with this?'" says Mariana Mace. "And then it's amazing how often when we get to the reveal, what we have finally come up with somehow connects to one or two or three other pieces.

Anita Cook, who works in pastels and carvings, says, "I don't think we have a great deal in common as far as our style. That's what makes the 'response' so interesting."

The artists say the process has turned out to be a great way to challenge themselves and find a supportive community.

Kerry McFall works in paint and mixed media. She says at the end of the 8-month process, when the group reveals all 64 works, "Every single time I have felt like, it's Christmas, it's my birthday. You bring your call up there and then everyone, one at a time, comes up and brings their piece, and they describe what was going through their mind as they're looking at it and you just feel like it's all for you."

This is the fourth year the group has worked together this way. They say they definitely plan to do it again and hope to inspire artists in other communities to try working together as they do.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.


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