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Art Center Ukiah sees the month of July as a good time to reflect on who we are in the United States of America, and Board members have decided to extend the single day July 4th celebration into a month-long show of local art. Especially as we find ourselves in the middle of a presidential election year, it seems that it’s a perfect time to reflect on a number of thought-provoking questions. Artists were asked, “How do you relate to the concept of ‘We the People’ in the twenty first century? Who are ‘We’? How do you see our nation’s accomplishments, our challenges, our hopes or even our failures? Use any medium, in any number of dimensions, to show us your thoughts.”


This show is co-coordinated by Katie Gibbs and Corine Pearce. Both members of the ACU Board and professional artists, they have put much thought into creating a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. This means that Katie and Corine have each reached out to artists they know who will present a variety of work representing differing perspectives about issues such as immigration, women’s rights, cultural differences and the right to vote.


Voting is an especially important issue to Katie. She says, “This exhibit is a perfect opportunity to encourage people to register to vote. We don’t want to be on any particular side politically, but we do feel that it’s critical to vote. So we will use art to support engagement. Only 34% of registered voters in CA showed up and voted in the recent primary election, which we think is unacceptable. Everyone should feel that it’s important enough to bother to vote, especially since all you need to to is open your mailed ballot and send it back.” Katie wants everyone to know that we will have voter registration forms at the gallery, which people can take home to fill out and mail in.


Katie is also determined to include Veterans in the July show. “It’s a good time to remember how important our veterans are to our well-being,” she says, “and this is an important opportunity to honor their service to all of us. We know that some of our local Vets are artists, so we’re especially reaching out to them to encourage them to enter their work.”


Encouraging people to vote is also a major focus for Corine as a show organizer. “I am very patriotic,” she explains, “which people don’t usually guess about me. Every generation of my family have served in American wars, even before we Indigenous people had citizenship. My dad served in the Army and he always took me voting when I was growing up. So when I turned 18 and voted for the first time he came with me… it was one of the most important days of my life. I think it’s every American’s duty to vote.” 


About who we are as ‘We the People’ Corine says, “We Americans are a buffet table, where everyone’s dish is distinct, but we’re still all at the same table.” She continues, “I hope this collection of artwork shows the breadth of who we are as a people and all of our differences… which can be celebrated.” Some of that celebration will be in the form of a series of anatomical hearts, done by Corine’s sister,  which represent Americans from a number of different cultures.

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