The BOX Gallery in downtown Akron is hosting one group show and one solo show from July 14 through Aug. 19: “Delivering Stories,” showcasing work by Karen Koch and Amber McElreath, and “Dolls as Metaphor,” by Ralph Hunt.
The artists will attend an opening reception Friday, July 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the BOX Gallery, located on the third floor of Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St. The event is free and open to the public.
Karen Koch is a local artist who relies on her love of nature and memories of days gone by for inspiration for her art. Believing that being grounded in our past helps us grow toward our future, her recent work explores the universal questions of where we have been and where are we going.
In her recent work, she also incorporates stitching as a way to add line detail. Thread, yarn and stitching are also a nod to both her evenings spent embroidering with her mother and days as a seamstress in college. Found objects, grandmother’s buttons, plastic wrappers, maps and old book pages all find their way into her work.
Maps especially are loaded with associations of childhood road trips and the promise of grand adventures. The results are colorful artworks rich in surface texture and personal associations.
Amber McElreath graduated with her bachelor’s degree from Kent State University School of Fine and Professional Arts with a concentration in painting. She worked by commission before obtaining her master’s degrees in Art Therapy and Counseling from Ursuline College. In her work she finds objects, collects them, and “purges” them by incorporating them into new pieces.
“In our disposable culture, and in America’s Rustbelt, there is no shortage of discarded items. These pieces were once thrown away or donated but using them in the creation of artwork gives them new life and purpose,” she said. “I transform these objects using paint, clay, resin, photography and collage materials. Using traditionally feminine materials and creative processes is a large component of my work. I use media including ribbon, embroidery floss, hand sewing, crafts and miniature dollhouse making.”
All of these refer to skills she learned as a young Midwestern girl. Some of these skills were once handed down generationally from mother to daughter; however, these skills are being lost.
Her work embraces the feminine and tries to legitimize traditionally female hobbies and media as fine art.
Ralph Hunt lives in Akron and travels a great deal to take pictures. His recent photographic work focuses on “indirect” images of people and portraits once-removed, such as pictures of portraits, figures on posters or calendars, or images of dolls, manikins, puppets or masks.
These are deflected representations of what is human, and dolls play a major part in this work. Most of the photographs were taken in the window of a small ceramics shop in Rome.
Because old expensive dolls had ceramic heads, people were more likely to hang on to them, and therefore these dolls were often passed down from generation to generation, ending up for repair in these cluttered little shops of broken things.
“Most of the dolls were piled haphazardly in the shop windows, so I had no control over their poses,” Hunt said. “Since turnover must have been exceedingly slow, the dolls had gathered thick coatings of dust, and this deterioration gives them character.”
The BOX Gallery will also be open on Saturday, Aug. 5 for the Akron Artwalk and July 20 for 3rd Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., in addition to its regular hours. Admission is free and open to the public.
In 1978, Artists of Rubber City (AoRC) was founded by a group of University of Akron art students looking for places to display their work and for a way to stay connected. AoRC is a member-based visual arts nonprofit with the mission to advocate for contemporary artists and Ohio art. The group promotes the appreciation and ownership of art created by contemporary artists as one facet of the rich culture to be found in Northeast Ohio. Members have diverse backgrounds in visual art including painters, photographers, printmakers, fiber artists, ceramicists, media artists, graphic artists, sculptors and jewelers.
The BOX Gallery is an artist-run gallery owned by the Artists of Rubber City. It opened in October 2009 on the third floor of Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St. in Akron. Gallery exhibition proposals are open to the public and can be acquired at the gallery or at ArtistsofRubberCity.org. Accepted artist and curator proposals have the opportunity to be featured in two exhibition spaces: the Big BOX and the small box. As a part of the AoRC mission to promote regional contemporary art and artists, membership is not a requirement for gallery shows or exhibitions.
The BOX Gallery is FREE and open to the public during exhibitions on Friday and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., during Friday art openings, during 3rd Thursday, every third Thursday of the month from 5 to 9 p.m., and during the Akron Art Walk, the first Saturday of each month from 5 to 9 p.m.