Portraits of the people, by the people

Portraits of the people, by the people: Moose Exchange accepting submissions for ‘Portraits of Our Community’ exhibit

Williamsport Sun-Gazette | December 17, 2015


Sun-Gazette Correspondent

We are flooded every day with people’s images in the media. Magazine covers, television commercials and films constantly present us with the faces of familiar public figures.

Most of us have never even met these people in person, yet we can immediately recognize them since they’ve been represented to us so many times in so many ways.

On the other hand, there are plenty of people in our community with whom we interact every day whose images are never made into works of art.

However, a local art gallery would like to try turning this current state of affairs on its head by asking local artists to create portraits of the everyday people in our communities

The Moose Exchange in Bloomsburg is calling for entries for its show “Portraits of Our Community,” which will be displayed in the Exchange’s Stairway Gallery at The Antler, located at 24 East Main Street, between April 4 and April 29, 2016.

The entries should consist of portraits of community members, and can be done in any medium—paint, sketching, photography, video, sculpture, poetry or whatever other medium the artist chooses to work in.

Ron Lambert, an Exchange Gallery committee member, is organizing the show.

“The idea behind the show is to exhibit people in the community who someone feels should be seen or may otherwise go unnoticed,” he said.

Artists of any ages or skill levels are welcome to participate, and the submissions must be received on or before Saturday, April 2 to be displayed in the show.

Lambert said that he was inspired by the concept of “celebrity” when developing his plan for this show.

“Just because someone has notoriety doesn’t necessarily mean they are more important,” he said. “In the scheme of things, maybe someone who does something for you or your community has more personal value than someone who has fame.”

Although no submissions have been received for the show yet, one piece that will be displayed is a photograph of The Exchange’s executive director, Oren Helbok, which provides an example of what a portrait of a community member could be.

Lambert speculated that participating in a show like this could give artists the chance to meet members of the community whom they admire but do not personally know, or allow them to thank or honor someone who has been important in their lives.

“The potential is also to show someone in an unpleasant light,” he said. “I am hoping the exhibit will serve as a portrait of the community itself, as diverse and unique as it is.”

Apart from the fact that the show’s theme allows artists to represent uncommon subjects, the show’s broad specifications for media is also an opportunity for artists to create work using materials or techniques that are innovative or unconventional.

While most artists tend to think of painting, drawing, or photography as the most common ways to create a portrait of a person, Lambert hopes that this show challenges them to think outside of these confines and explore the concept of “portraiture” in a variety of different media.

“I would love to see everything from interviews, poems, photography, video and sculpture, even  a collection of objects–really, any way someone feels they can best display the importance of the person we would be excited about,” he said. 

“Portraits of Our Community” is just another project that fits with the Moose Exchange’s overall goal of promoting art as a community activity and open conversation between both artists and patrons.

Rather than limiting submissions, all of the show calls at the Exchange Gallery are open to anyone who wishes to participate, whether seasoned artists or beginners.

“I personally feel like people often wish for an artistic outlet,” Lambert said. “I hope the Exchange Gallery can give people an opportunity to express themselves and feel their ideas are worthwhile.”

For more information about the Moose Exchange or to learn about upcoming shows, visit the organization’s website at www.mooseexchange.org.

Original publication (click to view larger)

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