Kentucky Museum hosts statewide program

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Julie Sisler

Though art is primarily seen as an individual activity, the Kentucky Museum’s exhibit, Side By Side, shows how art can come out of a partnership.

The Side by Side exhibit features artwork created by young artists with disabilities and local artists. It will be on display until June 30, according to the Kentucky Museum’s website. 

Kentucky Museum artist-in-residence Lynne Ferguson has been working with Side By Side for 16 years and said the exhibit is a great experience in community building. 

“The museum opens their door to an underserved population of youth who find acceptance and community at the museum, WKU and with the community of local artists,” Ferguson said. 

Ferguson said this year’s featured artists include WKU student Jensine Robinson, who served along with nine other professional artists in mentoring 18 young artists.

“The SBS exhibit is a collection of works created in a workshop as collaboration with local artists and a selection of special needs kids who have a passion for art,” Robinson said. “These kids were chosen because they attended an art camp hosted at WKU over the summer.”

The selected students then embark on a mentorship oriented experience to help them grow as artists.

Ferguson said students take multiple classes that take place at the museum. After those classes, they have one-on-one sessions with local artists. During these sessions, the students can collaborate on individual and separate pieces. This gives students the opportunity to learn more about collaborative art, as well as gain exposure to local artists and learn from having a professional artist as a mentor.

At the exhibit, student artwork is presented alongside the artist’s work and the collaborative pieces that they did together. Featuring the art in this way gives students a unique opportunity to not only work with professional artists, but also be presented with them.

Side By Side is a statewide program through VSA Kentucky, which has a partnership with the Kentucky Museum. 

“It is designed to offer a creative outlet for students, reinforce inclusiveness and positive self-image and highlight the importance of arts education in the development of our young people,” Ferguson said. “Additionally students have the opportunity to work alongside a community of professional artist[s] and see their work exhibited at the Kentucky Museum.”

As one of the mentoring local artists, Robinson said she worked with two kids, each for about an hour and a half.

“I thought it would be important for them to have as much freedom as possible to express themselves,” Robinson said. “So we started with a blank canvas and fingerpainted any colors they wanted, then we grabbed anything else in the room we could find like ribbon, plastic wrap, tape, sponges, etc.”

Robinson says that she hopes students she mentored learned that everything and anything can be considered art.

“The most important thing is probably that art can be just as much about playing around as it can be about serious contemplation,” Robinson said.

Robinson also has two solo pieces on display, a fingerpainting and a monotype print composed of dirt and plant material. 

Ferguson and Robinson both see major reasons to attend the exhibit. For Ferguson, she says that students should attend the exhibit in order to be inspired. Robinson hopes attendees will learn about the artists from their work.

“See the variety of styles and artworks displayed,” Robinson said. “There’s so much personality in each piece.”

Ferguson also believes that attendees can take away a major lesson both in and outside of art.

“I hope people will recognize that a person’s creative spirit is not limited by ability but by opportunity and access,” Ferguson said. “With Side by Side we try to get rid of those limitations and show the beauty in the work created.”

Features reporter Julie Sisler can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Julie on social media at @julie_sisler.