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The tulips are popping for Boneyard Arts Festival weekend

Artistic image of a colorful bull against a plain teal background. The bull is painted with broad strokes of pink, yellow, blue, white, and red.
Yeongshin Choi, Life Bull 8, oil on canvas, 2021. Photo provided by the artist.

The daffodils and violets are also showing off just in time for Champaign County’s signature Boneyard Arts Festival this weekend, April 12-14. 

With over 70 vendors throughout the county, there is truly something for everyone. From the collaboration between the Krannert Art Museum and Booker T. Washington’s 5th-grade STEM Academy on display at the Common Ground Food Co-op, to the 20th annual festival of quilts at Cunningham Children’s Home, to the interactive Pure Being dance workshops at Pure Being in Urbana, you will want to take your kids, your friends, and maybe even grandma and head out to an event near you. Just about every bar, park, salon, boutique, creative space, and, of course, gallery is involved. 

Check out the full festival schedule here.

The festival features both indoor and outdoor venues incorporating a variety of art, music, dance, food, and workshops all over the region. Check out one of Friday’s opening receptions, the HeART of it all at the Crow at 110 (University Ave) in Champaign. Featuring pieces by artists from all backgrounds, including artists with disabilities, art teachers, art therapists, and students, the exhibit will run both Friday evening and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Celebrate National Poetry Month with the readings from the Champaign-Urbana Poetry Group, 2 p.m. Saturday at Jane Addams Book Shop. 

The Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab will host a fun day of family-friendly activities focused on the art of games on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

It looks like the weather will cooperate with gorgeous spring conditions this weekend (of course, because it’s the University of Illinois’ Mom’s Day Weekend as well, and moms insist on spring sunshine) so coordinate those calendars and enjoy one of the best expressions of community this wonderful county has to offer.

Painting of an abstract image of a bull. The bull is painted in broad brushstrokes of red, pink, white, and blue against a pale blue background.
Yeongshin Choi, Life_Bull 10, oil on canvas, 2021; Photo provided by the artist

This year’s featured artist, and designer of 2024’s Boneyard signature image, is Yeong Choi. I asked Choi a bit about her background and her work.

This interview was edited for clarity and length. 

Smile Politely: Tell us a bit about your background as an artist.

Yeong Choi: I was born and raised in Korea, where I also graduated from art school. After getting married, I moved here to Champaign-Urbana, settled in, and started teaching children. However, for the past seven years, I’ve been able to fully dedicate myself to artistic endeavors, while still teaching children, especially teaching them empathy.

SP: What are some of the features of your work we can expect to enjoy at this year’s Boneyard Arts Festival?

Choi: My work is an exploration of the life within me. It explores true life and the vitality of lived experiences. 

SP: Who are some of the artists that inspire your work?

Choi: The artist who has had the greatest influence on me is Francis Bacon. Despite his distorted and dark imagery being deemed violent, he spoke of the beauty in revealing the essence of humanity, continuously contemplating and expressing the depths of human existence. Francis Bacon’s philosophy and works, which delved into the depths of human nature, have had the greatest impact on me. Although my artistic style may be quite different from his, I also ironically believe that true life emerges from pain.

SP: Could you tell us a bit about Life-Bull 8, this year’s Boneyard signature image?

Choi: In Life-Bull 8, I wanted to depict not just a simple symbol of strength but rather my self-portrait, struggling to live, to show that true vitality lies within the struggle itself. I aimed to convey the beauty of genuine life found within those struggles. This artwork can be viewed at The Gallery at M2.

SP: What advice do you have for emerging artists in our community?

Choi: I, too, am in the process of finding my way, even if it’s at a later age. However, if there’s something I’d like to share, it’s this; if you truly love what you do, don’t give up. Instead, search within yourself to discover what truly resonates with you, and don’t be afraid to express it freely. Art is life, after all. Through my artworks, I hope we can feel together that despite the pain and sadness in life, our struggles are beautiful, and that true beauty lies within us.

SP: What are you most looking forward to in Boneyard, 2024?

Choi: I’ve spent the past 12 years in Urbana-Champaign but it wasn’t until last year that I truly entered into the community. Through last year’s Boneyard Arts Festival, I met some wonderful people, and thanks to them, I find myself in such a good situation now.  I look forward to moving forward together, experiencing everything in community, both sadnesses and joys, and to the shared happiness that continues to make our lives beautiful. Through this year’s Boneyard Arts Festival, I hope to showcase my work to more people, meet individuals with whom I can communicate, and create more opportunities to actively participate in this community in the future.

Community is the theme this and every year since the Boneyard Arts Festival began. The weekend is a celebration of community life throughout Champaign County. We are richly blessed to have so many artists, musicians, writers, designers, dancers, actors, and organizers in the area. You’re probably one of them. Join in the dance and celebrate the arts.

Boneyard Arts Festival
Champaign County
April 12-14

Arts Editor at Smile Politely

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