Emergence showcases local, internationally known artists

“Fragments of the Unreachable” by Heather Brammeier, Bradley art professor, is on display at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. Photo via Heather Brammeier.
Fragments of the Unreachable by Heather Brammeier, Bradley art professor, is on display at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. Photo via Heather Brammeier.

The Peoria Riverfront Museum is showcasing a new exhibit titled Emergence: The National Arts of Central Illinois. The exhibit features contemporary art that has influenced, or was influenced by, the cultural landscape of central Illinois.

Located in downtown Peoria on 222 SW Washington St., the exhibit opened earlier this fall on Sept. 30 and will continue until its final date of Jan. 14, 2018.

Zac Zetterburg, museum curator and Bradley alum, said the Emergence project was formed to gather central Illinois artists under one roof and diversify the featured artists.

We are a museum that pushes for diversity, both through the artists we invite and the multidisciplinary exhibits we have at the museum, Zetterburg said. The goal was also to connect the museum with a variety of artists in the central Illinois region.

With a larger range of artists than usually featured in an exhibit, Zetterburg said the event is an opportunity that everyone should take advantage of while it is available.

We [subtitled] this show, The National Arts of Central Illinois, Zetterburg said. We wanted to showcase the talents we have nearby. I think there are a lot of people who might not realize how blessed we are in that regard most of the artists in this [exhibit] show art nationally or internationally. We have so many artists here that are of the caliber of a big city, it gives students at Bradley the opportunity to see artists that are at another level of what they might usually see.

Zettergburg said the team of curators at the museum prominent artists from Illinois State University, Knox College, Illinois Central College, Western Illinois University, Prairie Center for Arts and even Bradley University to not only feature their own works of art but to select an additional handful of talented artists of their choosing.

We had them select pieces from artists they knew and wanted to feature. This was basically another way of diversifying the type of work we wanted inside the museum, Zetterburg said.

Of the six initial members is Oscar Gillespie, a drawing and printmaking professor for Bradley. Gillespie said he is glad Emergence is giving the community an opportunity to realize what talented artists central Illinois has and that he chose his handful of suggested artists very carefully.

[Zetterburg] initially reached out to [me] to choose five or six artists to be in the exhibit, Gillespie said. I reached out to two professors, and the rest were former students. Some [of the former students], frankly, were working artists doing most of their work in their garages that sort of thing. I figured this would be a great way to help with their notoriety and to get a bit of a start.

Emergence includes the work of 57 artists, 24 of which have ties to Bradley University. The genres of art featured in the exhibit range from photography, book art, video art, large scale installation art using recycled materials from other pieces and blown glass from Illinois State as well as many other forms.

An artist Gillespie personally chose is Heather Brammeier, a painting professor at Bradley. Brammeier said the exhibit introduces a new perspective on art to students and the community and also allows up-and-coming artists to be showcased alongside popular artists of central Illinois.

[For starters,] it is good for Bradley students and the community to see local artists presented on the same level as national artists would be, Brammeier said. Ive [also] had students come to me excited about the sculpture Ive made, which is in the show. For students to be able to actually see the piece in real life is much different from hearing about it. It is a great to be able to see the work in a venue that is really high-level.

Brammeier said art is something everyone should get involved with in some kind of way, as it allows students to see life from different angles.

They say the best way to learn is through travel, Bremmeier said. It gives insight on other peoples perspectives. Art can do the same thing. The quicker you are able to [open your mind], the better you will do in our world It is important being able to see other perspectives We live in a diverse world.

Because Bradley is hosting two separate galleries and a diverse selection of art, Bremmeier said the university provides an excellent opportunity to appreciate diverse art.

On campus, we have two different gallery locations, [Heuser Art Gallery and Hartmann Center], and shows are always changing, Brammeier said. Students are able to see many different types of work. Just because you see one show doesnt mean you wont like the next one. It isnt a huge commitment, either you could walk in for five minutes and you never know what you might find.

Emergence also holds a lecture series, in which the audience can hear a first-hand account on how artists were inspired to create various works of art. According to Gillespie, the lecture series is an excellent way for students to grow as artists or to learn life lessons by hearing someone elses story.

The lecture series is important because it shows [prospective] artists how to get established in the real world by listening to the cases of the artists who are featured in the show, Gillespie said. You can learn a lot by hearing life stories that influenced each piece.

Students who are interested in the Emergence Lecture Series can attend the next event on Oct. 29 at the Riverfront Museum. The event is free to the public.