CAW goes 'Inside' for group exhibition at Cultural Arts Center

An exhibition title for a solo art show is most often determined once the work is complete — a revelation that comes as an artist assesses the completed work and the themes that embody it. For a group show, the title often comes first, doubling as a way to pre-unify the collected art while allowing each participating artist to speak to the theme in her or his unique voice.

The Creative Arts of Women (CAW) collective will unveil the first in a two-part assignment given by its members to themselves this weekend at the Cultural Arts Center with “Inside.”

“We try to make it as broad a theme as we can so that there are multiple levels of interpretation, so that we're not taking any artists out of their normal way of producing work, but inspiring to bring another element in,” CAW exhibitions coordinator Catherine Bell Smith said in an interview at her studio in Blockfort. “If they're working and they're in practice, usually their mind is open enough to bring in a little inspiration from something else. And, though we are a collective, we really highlight the individual talents and way of working. We celebrate that.”

The 35 CAW members who agreed to produce work for “Inside” were also asked to commit to the subsequent “Outside,” to be exhibited this summer at Mount Vernon Nazarene University — works that, while they will not be presented side-by-side, should relate in some way to each other.

“The theme is rich,” Smith said. “Do we have a unique perspective based on [our] gender? Absolutely. We are nothing but women. But is that something I've necessarily seen [in work made for ‘Inside']? Not specifically. We each have a story to tell that is really coming out in the work.”

Bell said some CAW members are representing the concept in a literal, physical manner, dealing with issues of space. Others have chosen a more emotional tack, exploring their inner selves, with the work, if not fully revealing what was uncovered, expressing the challenges of the search.

“I've heard from a number of the women that this has been a little more difficult to pull together because there has to be introspection, and sometimes that causes anxiety and a slow-down in the work to think a little bit more [about] how to get what's inside of you out,” Bell said. “Our role as artists in society is to make those connections. We don't want [the work] to be self-indulgent. We all feel work needs to be significant not just for ourselves but for the audience.”