Detainees’ art on display in gallery on Santa Fe Drive

White teacups bear impressions of flowers from creators’ homelands

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The first arts collective with work exhibited in the new exhibit, “Collectivism” at Center for Visual Art, Metropolitan State University’s gallery at Santa Fe Drive and 10th Avenue is the Detainees at Guatanamo Bay Detention Center, which sets a visitor on edge a bit — who knew? A note says that as of May 2018, 40 men remained there.

There are uniform white teacups decorated by prisoners with impressions of a flower of native origin in their country. Plus, we see photographs of those prisoners … Accompanying the white cups is a dazzling display of photographs of individual flowers, from their countries of origin.

There is also a stack of postcards with repeats of those prints, accompanied by pencils and an invitation to write to one of those men. (A glass container is quite full of written postcards, awaiting stamps and cancellations.)

One is immediately engaged in a way unlike what one generally feels upon entering a gallery. (Quiet anticipation …) Proceed a bit farther into a darkened room where sprouting bean plants are unfurling and an assortment of small salt dough sculptures represent the Shattered Moon Alliance. And, there is an invitation to “Join the CVA Artist Collective,” next to an assortment of colored papers, tapes, colored pencils — all bright, new and inviting one to make something now.

This new exhibit, “Collectivism,” was co-curated by CVA director Cecily Cullen, ceramist and MSU professor Tsehai Johnson and art department chair Deanne Pytlinski. It features local and Colorado artists’ collectives, and invitations to the visitor to engage with the artists …

Many will be aware of the Ladies Fancywork Society due to its random public appearances. Here, the floor-to-ceiling creation, “Our Lady,” is a riot of color, with bright knit and crocheted pieces, including doilies and potholders, linked together into a cozy garment for a giant. The longer left arm reaches to the rafters waving at all of us a greeting. “The Ladies Fancywork Society (four members) is here to bring creatures into the world that are stuck in the Fiber Portal, aka The Yarn Hole and need help getting through,” one reads … The collective started with one in 2007.

Distill Collective, Johnson and associate professor of art Michael Bernhardt, involves creating collaborative drawings via the mail.

The Secret Love Collective invites one to play dress-up, with a rack of clothing to try on — but not to wear home. “You can be anything’ is the message … The SLC was part of ongoing programming in an opening night Parade of Selves event. Upcoming:

• subRosa Collective artist talk with Hyla Willis and Faith Wilding on Sept. 5 from 5-6 p.m. plus subRosa performance 5:30-8 p.m.

• Collectivism Artist Panel from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 18. Hear how and why these artists work in collectives.

• “Collect This!” Secret Love Collective Game Show at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10. Participants will collect seemingly random elements in order to make art. Costumes, puppets and potentially artful chaos.

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