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Hatch kicked off their two-week art festival with an exhibit opening at Indi Go Artist Co-op on Friday, February 28th. With cheese and drinks in hand, spectators walked through the gallery to admire the creative reuse of materials to start this fun and inspiring festival.

This being the only creative-reuse art festival in Central Illinois, I was quite impressed. It was my first time hearing about it, and I was thrilled to see the amazing artwork that was displayed. Steel hearts and baby doll heads were just a few of the amazing materials on display in this show. It is a limited selection, however; I imagine that had to do with the amount of space available.

After taking a good look around, I was curious as to the expectations/qualifications to be let into the show. I was told that artists were asked to submit pieces and pay a small fee. When I was finally able to speak to a juror, she said most jurors (there were a few of them) were interested in the craftsmanship, handling of the materials, and how the materials were used in unexpected ways. (“Come on,” I thought. “A vintage baby doll head with a crown? A little creepy, but so brilliant!”)

There were some absolutely gorgeous pieces in this show, and the jurors did a marvelous job of selecting pieces. My new juror confidant continued to explain the process and added that all of this artwork comes from real professional artists. She assured me that all of these pieces were fine art and not just craft.

That comment about craft really struck me, as I have heard it used so many times in art classes and all over the art world: fine art vs. craft. This constant debate of what constitutes fine art and craft or “domestic art” really interests me, and, quite frankly, I am torn. Recently, there have been many artists who are combining both fine art and craft into their work to produce amazingly beautiful pieces. We are seeing a lot more needle point, beading, and quilting mixed with painting and sculpture — and not just from women, but from men, too! It’s phenomenal and exciting how things have changed. Every day, the term “art” is being pushed to a different degree. As a writer and a painter, I absolutely love it.

I believe that this festival is, in some ways, one of these “pushes” I’m talking about. The reuse of materials is nothing new; every liberal art school has a least one project with this type of aesthetic. But what comes from it is always extraordinary. The saying about another man’s trash being another man’s treasure is true. And yes, I know that phrase has been overused in eco-friendly/reusable art and fashion, but it works! And, as this exhibit points out, if something works, it can and should be re-used.

So even if you missed this past weekend’s events, don’t worry; this show runs until March 15th. So, for all you fashion, art, wine, music, and eco-friendly lovers out there, stop by any of the venues to check out this fabulously fun event. Here is schedule for the 2014 Hatch Art Festival.

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