Ann Treadwell, curator and programs director for the Jewish Cultural Center, has assembled an exhibition inspired by Bertolt Brecht's quote "Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it."
She said she looked for artists whose output reflected that quote and chose Frances McDonald, Judith Mogul and Carol Ventura. "Drawn In" opens Monday and continues through May 13.
"In this exhibit, you will see how art can be a lens to help us focus on the meaning or lack of meaning in our world and how the finished product or process of creating shapes our world," said Treadwell. "This is not intended to be an exhibit about beauty but an exhibit about thought."
McDonald, executive director of the non-profit organization Mark Making, assists people who may not have made art before in creating a project of learning or meaning. The purpose of her organization is to enhance the community through the creation of public art by nonprofessional artists such as students, the homeless and people with physical or mental challenges.
McDonald says that her projects give these populations a voice in the community, help them overcome obstacles, learn problem-solving skills and live more fulfilling lives. Mark Making also provides employment and teaching opportunities for local artists.
"For the city, Mark Making offers beautification of visual landscapes and increased civic engagement from participants," said McDonald.
Mogul's project "The Lot" is a multifaceted look at cars and people's relationship to them throughout modern history.
"The title refers to the space designated for parking cars, as well as to the idea of chance," she said.
Mogul's interest in cars as the subject of a project began in 1978 while she was in graduate school. Then, about 18 years ago, she was held up at gunpoint in a Chattanooga parking lot. As a result, she decided to create a video project, "The Lot," which will draw on the history of the automotive industry, fashion, the environment and criminal behavior.
Her portion of the exhibit, "Drawn In," is composed of the set, set pieces and puppets that eventually will be used in the video.
Ventura, art historian for Tennessee Technological University, will be represented by linen fiber works that were created using a one-sided, flat tapestry crochet technique. Special graph papers help her achieve images that are proportionally correct.
Everything about the tapestries is symbolic - from the choice of color to composition to message.
For example, "The Recovery" documents the denial, depression, anger and acceptance phases that she went through after her second marriage ended. The four tapestries - each one representing a phase - are characterized by specific colors.
"For instance, 'Depression' is black and blue because it was an emotionally bruising experience," she explained.
Other tapestries in the show explore equality of the races, oppression of women, lack of support for the arts and personal lessons she has learned throughout her life.
A meet-the-artists reception will be held April 7 at 5:30 p.m.
JCC, 5461 North Terrace Road, is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday. The gallery will be closed April 19, 20, 25 and 26. Call 493-0270.
Email Ann Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org.