In COVID times, opportunities to watch artists create have been limited to Instagram and TikTok. But with 8 to Create’s return to an in-person format, the magic of live creation was back and better than ever. The Link Gallery, situated between the Illinois School of Fine Arts and Krannert Museum, is a place of connection, and place of in-betweenness. This light filled corridor serves as the perfect for demystifying the creative process and observing the slow, but steady process of ideas, tools, vision, and determination becoming art before your very eyes.
Some background for those unfamiliar with this experience. 8 to Create is a registered student organization at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Each year it produces a public art event inviting the public to “observe, engage, and participate in the creative process,” as 8 artists spend 8 hours creating a total of 8 works of art. The art is designed to be temporary and is not for sale. Perhaps more importantly, 8 to Create seeks to tear down the town/gown art divide and “to break down institutional and social hierarchies by bringing together a mix of artists from a variety of experiences and affiliations in one creative space.”
According to 8 to Create President Emma Creque, “artists are always chosen by our committee. Artists apply during our call for art period, we usually have the committee reach out to artists over social media to expand our reach as well. This year our call for art received a mix of artist types and artist levels (both professional and undergrad artists). We didn’t intentionally try to create this in-person experience greatly different from our previous shows but as the cards laid our show developed into a place for artists of all styles and levels. We greatly appreciated this change and fully adopted it into our future shows.”
For these reasons, as well as the wide array of styles and techniques represented, 8 to Create is one of my favorite local events. It is also one of the most exciting and challenging to cover. So before we go any further, let me clarify that this photo essay is by no means comprehensive or scientific in its data collection. I decided to make two visits to 8 to Create, one at approximately 10:15 a.m., and one at 5:30 p.m. Much of what I captured was determined by those two choices and by my personal interest in work that challenged traditional definitions of “art.” From Heather Sandy’s sunflower seed-filled art skins made in the color of the Ukrainian Flag, to Andrew Jang’s cutting age digital illustration station, this year’s event presented both a rebirth of sorts and a snapshot of the emerging world within which artists live and create.
10:15 a.m. at The Link Gallery
5:30 p.m. at the Link Gallery
Sierra Shaw Murphy
Looking back on Saturday’s event, Emma Creque shared that her “favorite part of the show had to be as the artists were finishing their pieces at the end of the 8 hours. Everyone was really proud of their work and everyone made such a beautiful piece. It was so great to see the artists enjoy the day and see the final works they all worked so hard on.” She also enjoyed the chance “to interact with patrons of the show, and connect with other registered student organizations” 8 to Create has previously worked with. Because at the end of the day, that’s what community art is about. Not the product, but the shared transformative process, and the connections made.
8 to Create
March 26th, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
500 E Peabody Dr