I first met Kayte Newhouse of Prism Studios at their Paint at Your Pace open house at the Independent Media Center. Now, nine months later, Prism has returned to the IMC to co-host its inaugural exhibition. It makes my heart happy to see that Prism has not only survived its mid-pandemic birth, but that it continues to grow its community engagement and its impact. 


After that open house I wrote this: 

"By introducing a prism into your view, you separate white light into a spectrum of colors. You may also clarify or complicate your perspective. Prism Studios, the new fem-owned, queer-owned, arts initiative with a focus on inclusion, diversity, and creativity, does both. Prism, and the artists who founded it, are a refreshing mix of revolution and refuge, part Bob Ross, part lowbrow pop surrealism. Like the object from which they take their name, they turn fear of the blank canvas into an explosion of color and self-expression."

After experiencing Reclaim, it is clear that a community art exhibition is the obvious next step in Prism's mission of art for everyone. It is bold and diverse in every sense of the word. It is greater than the sum of its parts, as a community art exhibition should be. 

Reclaim features work by KTKannibal (Prism's own Newhouse), Joshua Doniek, Law Welle, Chris Reme, Darin Doty, Cindy Blair Sampson, former Smile Politely theatre reviewer and local dramaturg KT Burke, Matt Wiley, author and illustrator of the beloved My Cat is Depressed, and photographer Freya Replinger. The walls of the IMC's gallery literally explode with color, filling almost every inch of the space with creative energy.

Installing Darin Doty's work beside Cindy Blair Sampson's mind-blowing goth girl creates a dialogue between the artists themselves as well as with the viewers. 


Photo by Debra Domal.

I arrived at the IMC shortly after 6 p.m. on a Tuesday evening and experienced both the luxury and disappointment of having an exhibition to oneself. This space and this work both deserve attention. 

Law Welle, like the rest of the artists of Reclaim, brought vibrancy to the space and reached out with invitations for connection and conversation via QR codes. So charge your phone and make sure to bring it along to fully experience the work and the interact with the artists. 

A series of multicolored, multi-size painting on center wall with other work on the right and left side walls.
Photo by Debra Domal.

Joshua Doniek's 2D and 3D creations always bring the drama and imagination (remember The Diva from the most recent Those Who Teach exhibition) and I was so excited to see them here.  

A series of paintings and sculptures covering two walls.
Photo by Debra Domal.

One of the gifts of a community exhibition is discovering new and emerging artists. Chris Reme's work is available in magnet form at a very affordable price point. 

On the left is a piano and at center is a series of magnets and prints on a square pillar.
Photo by Debra Domal.

3D was the name of the game for several artists, also including the immensely talented KTKannibal.


Photo by Debra Domal. 

Illustrator Matt Wiley gives us a glimpse into the development of The Light Witches world. And you can bring home a piece of this unique universe for a hellluva good price.

Two framed prints on a square pillar.
Photo by Debra Domal.

Freya Replinger's photography ranges from realism to expressionist and illustrates the emotive value that digital techniques can add. There is much there, and throughout the exhibition, that you will want to, and may well be able to afford to, take home and live with.

Close up of a framed and mounted digital photograph.
Photo by Debra Domal.

KT Burke's work, which is infused with the artist's storytelling skills, does not shy away from the darkness. For this reviewer, these pieces conjured up thoughts of darkness as a site for quiet, reflection, grieving, and, ultimately, for healing.

A series of dark toned paintings on a central wall.
Photo by Debra Domal.

The IMC gallery space is an extension of its mission. It is accessible and welcoming to artists of all levels. And in this it is well-suited as a co-host and location for Prism's inaugural exhibition. There is a clear D.I.Y. vibe which may turn off those who prefer professional gallery installations. But this perfectly imperfect space speaks well to Prism's art for everyone mission. It holds space for new and experienced artists to show (and sell) side by side and learn from one another. And, perhaps more importantly, it takes art out of the rarified ether and brings it to the community.

Newhouse wrote that Reclaim: Clarity in Community, is "about coming together after the long winter and reclaiming our ties to nature and to one another to find clarity in community." Like so much that Prism Studios does, Reclaim encourages both artists and viewers to reconnect with the warmth of community, the spark of creativity, and the glow of hope. 

Reclaim: Clarity in Community
Through June 12th
Closing reception: June 12th, 2-5 p.m.
Independent Media Center
202 S Broadway, Ste #1
Urbana
Hours: T-Th, 5-8 p.m. F-Su, 2-5 p.m.

Connect with Prism Studios on Facebook, Instagram, or on their website.

Top photo by Debra Domal.