‘I HeART Connections’: Carrboro-based virtual art exhibition features artists from around the world

The Art Therapy Institute of North Carolina opened a free virtual community art exhibit called “I HeART Connections” on February 11.

The art exhibition focuses on the power of connection, specifically how artists relate to themselves, nature, creativity and others.

Bridget Pemberton-Smith, executive director of the Art Therapy Institute of North Carolina, said the exhibit uses an online program called KUNSMATRIX to replicate an in-person exhibit on a virtual platform.

The exhibition offers a guided tour, details about each artwork, and a self-paced option.

Although this is the 12th annual show, it is the second year that the institute has offered a virtual option due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since this year’s exhibition is remote, artists from around the world can submit their art to be featured.

“It was amazing when we opened last year because we had people who stayed up until the middle of the night to come to the opening,” Pemberton-Smith said. “It was really powerful. It really highlighted to us the amazing connections we could have during the pandemic.”

Pemberton-Smith said these international connections inspired the institute to change the name of the exhibit from “I Heart Art” to “I HeART Connections” this year.

“We’re so moved that we’re a small nonprofit in a small town in Carboro, and we’ve reached people not just in the United States, but around the world,” she said.

R. Drada, an artist based in Berlin, presents two works of art in the exhibition: “Woman Before a Mirror” and “Yellow Portrait”.

“Yellow Portrait” is a self-portrait of R. Drada looking at himself in the mirror. It’s based on a photo she took of herself when she was pregnant with her first child.

“I wasn’t really that person who always really aspired to be a mother – it just wasn’t a goal in my life,” R. Drada said. “For me it was just a document of how I feel, how I looked before the child was born, because I was afraid it would change me or lose my identity.”

The second submission, “Woman Before a Mirror,” is a figurative piece featuring a pale skeletal face looking into a mirror with red and blue shapes surrounding the face of the figure, R. Drada said. She said this piece reflects her personal experience and outlook as an Asian-American.

“Sometimes I’m in situations where I’m clearly accepted as an American, sometimes I’m not sure, that’s why these red and blue shapes are sort of shadowed around me,” R. Drada said. . “I think in terms of the skeletal appearance of the woman, I think it’s just fear-based because unfortunately there are people who are attacked because they’re Asian.”

R. Drada said that while there are many open calls for art, she was drawn to this art exhibit specifically because of the theme of connection. Much of his art is a reflection of his life experiences and current thoughts.

Clara Bolle, an artist based in Amsterdam, presents “Abondance 12” and “Abondance 13” in the exhibition.

She said that the fact that the exhibition is virtual is important because of the international community that is created.

“I really liked making expressive works with lots of color,” Bolle said. “Abundance is about harvesting, access, the thirst for life and also that we can find this thirst for life in all aspects of ourselves and nature.”

You can discover the virtual exhibition “I HeART Connections” on the ATI website until March 10.


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