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Chico Art Center is in right state of mind

“Secret World” This art piece has a Table and Chairs suspended in air and a colorful light shining on the bottom this is a picture of the set up for the piece. Photo credit: Abigail Jones

The Chico Art Center is currently hosting a gallery called “Discovery Series: State of Mind.” The gallery focuses on three artists: Bonnie Smith, Sandra Relyea and Jamie Blankenship.

“Discovery Series: State of Mind” is about perspective. Smith uses swimming as a metaphor for pushing through tough times in life. Relyea casts “shadows” to reflect on marginalized people, and Blankenship uses a disco ball to add a little twinkle to everyday life.

Smith’s “Swimming Upstream” is a collection of fiber arts based on photos of Smith swimming and different colors of various bodies of water. She suffered a work-related injury in 1999 but when able to exercise again, she decided to swim.

“I realized you are not alone. Thousands of people have injuries and lose jobs,” Smith said. “I’m amazed at the inspiration from it. The day will come when you feel confident – treading water can save your life.”

"The Team" Textile 65 x 35 Photo credit: Abigail Jones

One of Smith’s works is called “The Team,” which is different from her typical one person pieces. This piece has five subjects instead with each subject in different positions in the light teal water. Smith said that they are the people who helped her along the way of her injury.

"Click: An Asian American man approximately 27 years old sat on the curb in the shade across from the mobile
medical van. He refused to go into the van and wouldn't accept any food or medicine. He also stayed in
the shade. The van clinician came out of the van and crossed the street to sit on the curb next to him.
His speech was garbled and it was apparent that he was delusional and possibly experiencing symptoms
of schizophrenia. He told the clinician his name was Click. From a distance it looked like Click was
wearing black pants, but as he rolled up his pant leg to show that he had no socks on, the clinician saw
that the pants were actually dress khaki-colored chinos. He also had on a filthy but expensive looking
wool sweater and worn leather dress shoes. All of his clothes fit him perfectly – they hadn't come from
a second s rack or donation pile. The clinician wondered who Click really was and what he had been
planning to do the day he had a psychotic break. She never saw him again." Photo credit: Abigail Jones

Relyea’s work includes what looks like blown up fabric shadows on the wall. Each shadow depicts different kinds of problems or diseases, such as schizophrenia in “Click” and Multiple Sclerosis in “John and Emma.”

Blankenship takes photos of the ordinary and uses a disco ball to create colorful stars around the scenes. Her photographs presented in the gallery include a chair and table, as well as the palm of a hand and close up of a clothes rack.

"Secret World" This art piece has a Table and Chairs suspended in air and a colorful light shining on the bottom this is a picture of the set up for the piece. Photo credit: Abigail Jones

Blankenship’s “Secret World” is a simple scene underneath a table and chairs. The disco ball projects stars under the table and on the sides of the wall. In the gallery, there is a dark room to enter from. The disco ball, chair and table are suspended from the ceiling where visitors may take their own versions of Secret World.

The art expresses different feelings and experiences people may have over the course of their lives, such as dealing with a disease, adding a little fun to life or going through tough challenges.

“Each artist is working from an empathetic perspective, whether they are trying to understand the circumstances of someone on the other side of their experience, or wanting to relate their challenges or dreams to another,” said Cameron Kelly, Gallery Director of Chico Art Center.

Julia Maldonado can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.

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