Photo provided
Cunningham was a featured artist in the recent, nationally-curated show *[untitled] at Athens Arts
Photo provided Cunningham was a featured artist in the recent, nationally-curated show *[untitled] at Athens Arts
Gifted artist Nina Cunningham has just installed “Devastating Beauty/1000 Thanks,” a gathered, multi-media show at Athens Arts Gallery, and the public is cordially invited to attend. This is a rare opportunity to see Cunningham’s signature work put together as a themed show. “Devastating Beauty/1000 Thanks” runs from May 11 to June 19 in the Fishero Gallery. It is free and open to the public between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.
Denizens of downtown Crawfordsville are aware of Cunningham’s generosity as a public art designer. Her whimsical talents help create the windows of Joshua Cup, and, on occasion, Athens Arts windows. They light up the downtown. The “art tree stump” outside Athens Arts has been her canvas; and, it was Cunningham who made the playful, iconic, and much photographed gold bust of Stellar Stella to commemorate Crawfordsville’s selection as a Stellar City.
On Friday, a reception for the artist will be held at the gallery between 6 and 8 p.m. Refreshments will be served and vocal music provided by Clair Tchoula of Lafayette. The public is cordially invited to share this celebration. Athens Arts is located at 113 North Washington Street in downtown Crawfordsville across from the courthouse.
Last year, Cunningham, an artist of regional renown, was faced with a dilemma any artist would envy: she learned she had been selected to create exhibitions for two galleries. Cunningham responded to that challenge and “Devastating Beauty/1000Thanks” is the alluring result, and it has taken two forms.
The first manifestation of “Devastating Beauty/10000Thanks” was installed at Artists’ Own Gallery in Lafayette in September, 2018 to wide acclaim. Cunningham’s exceptionally varied work in mixed media has pieces whose creation involves skilled stitchery on fabric art forms, metal, clay, wood, paint, and other media. All the pieces evoke strong feelings in viewers. As art critic Tom Shafer said, describing her piece “The Stilt Walker,” Cunningham “creates a circuslike atmosphere with her combinations of paint and collage. One can almost hear the circus band as it marches down Main Street, followed by various circus animals and performers.”
For “Devastating Beauty/1000Thanks,” Cunningham is listening to a different drummer. In this exhibit, Cunningham’s wide-ranging and haunting talent has drawn on other parts of the human experience. At the same time she received her two gallery invitations, and as she explains, “The #metoo movement had just surfaced in social media, and from that particular event, I not only had a personal connection, but also was deeply moved by my compassion for others.” Her work began. Between the first install of “DB1000Thanks” many other controversial events surfaced in the political and social arenas. Nina notes, “This show is not about any particular ‘side’ if there can be such a thing. It’s about the release of shame and the freedom that comes from forgiveness. It’s the gratitude that is revealed when you forgive. Not just the perpetrator but yourself. Forgiveness from the damaging and ridiculous choices that sometimes stem from a devastating event. This show is about my faith as a Christian and the hope that is fulfilled in grace and forgiveness.” As she also notes, art can help a person bring things full circle to a place of healing, gratitude and faith.
Cunningham is originally from Central New York, but has made her home in Montgomery County for over 20 years now. She works for a local screen printer as a graphic designer and art director. Her earlier shows and this one deal with life and the interior places life has taken her. She has been featured widely in regional galleries and other venues. Cunningham was a featured artist in the recent, nationally-curated show *[untitled] at Athens Arts. Cunningham can be found on Instagram and on Facebook.