As I preview this inspired and inspiring collaboration for you, I am struck by the fact that throughout these stay-at-home weeks, artists of all stripes have continued to do what they do best. They continue to create, share, and transform pain into beauty. At a time when I feared the lack of in-person events would leave me with little to share with readers, I find myself working hard to keep up with the creative solutions and great work that continue to emerge, shutdown be damned. 


Poetic Art is not just an example of how to reframe an event during a pandemic shutdown. From its initial idea to its latest incarnation, it showcases the best that our community has to offer. It illustrates the power of collaboration, and of finding inspiration outside one's particular discipline. In many ways it is a testament to growth. And that is definitely something to celebrate.

I reached out to Her Creative Collective founder and Poetic Art visionary Dana Overman to find out more about the event's inspiration and how it has evolved in light of COVID-19. What I learned left me even more excited about the event. But more than that, it made me appreciate how hard the members of our local arts community are working to not just meet the challenges of the shutdown, but to see it as an opportunity to transform the way we present and share art. 

Smile Politely: Can you share a bit about Poetic Art's backstory?

Dana Overman: I had planned on having Poetic Art be my second juried event at Her Creative Collective during Boneyard 2020—my first was Artfully Created in Champaign County and was very well attended. I had an open call for poem submissions in Feb. and invited 15 artists/photographers to participate. Each artist reviewed all of the poems submitted and chose one that spoke to them, one that they felt inspired by to create a piece of work. 

SP: And then the shutdown happened.... 

Overman: I postponed the exhibit when Boneyard 2020 was postponed, but also because Her Creative Collective also closed and obviously remains closed during the stay at home order. However, because there was this beautiful synergy that was occurring as artists were creating their work from their chosen poems I received numerous emails from both artists and poets asking when they would be able to share their work. And because having a virtual exhibit has always been in my long-term goal column, I decided to shuffle the columns and pivot to make this happen. 

SP: You haven't just met this unforeseen challenge, you've created new something out of it. What kept you going? What motivated you? 

Overman: The current circumstances that we are all living in provides an opportunity to adapt, grow, reevaluate, and reflect upon what matters to us as individuals, but more importantly as a community. Art in all its forms is a powerful agent. It tells a story, it stirs us, it reminds us, it can heal us, and it can unite us. The synergy of bringing two creatives together in this particular way—Poetic Art—feels very fitting for right now.  As I mentioned above, having a virtual art gallery has always been in the “someday” column and I thought why not now?

Image: Photo of gallery wall and floor with names of participating poets and artists listed. Image from Facebook event page.
Image: Photo of gallery wall and floor with names of participating poets and artists listed. Image from Facebook event page.

SP: Tell us how will the virtual exhibit and virtual opening night reception work? What can our readers expect?

Overman: The Poetic Art exhibit will be on our Her Creative Collective website under the “Virtual Art Gallery” tab and will be up for three months. I plan to have new virtual art exhibits quarterly. Artists will be listed with their bios and contact information.

In trying to replicate the type of gathering that we usually find on an “opening night” I decided to have a Zoom live event from 7 to 8 p.m. In addition, I will be creating a video with all of the art and poems using original music from a lovely songwriter/musician from Mahomet. This video will be released at 6:00 p.m. on May 15th via social media, and will be available for view on the website as well.

Top image: Photo of gallery wall with painting hanging and event information printed across it. Photo from Facebook event page.