Katy O'Toole's painting,
Katy O'Toole's painting, "Like A Fish Needs A Bicycle And A Hot Air Balloon,” was inspired by Irina Dunn’s famous catch phrase popularized by Gloria Steinem.

Starting next week and through June, the Photographic Archives Gallery in Ekstrom Library will be full of an eclectic mix of artwork ranging from oil paintings and basketry to quilts, photography and steel sculptures. The pieces were created by UofL faculty and staff who otherwise have day jobs all over campus – IT, Physical Plant, Athletics, Communications and Marketing, teaching, researching and more.

This is the eighth year for the Open Walls Staff and Faculty Art Exhibit show, created as part of the Great Places to Work initiative. Thirty-three artists are participating, which is above average compared to recent years. Last year, there were 31 artists and in 2016, there were 30 participants.

Here is a cross section of what you can expect from this year’s show:

Patrick Glisson, from Environmental Health and Safety, is once again showing his knot ties. Glisson has participated in Open Walls every year since its beginning, calling his craft “therapy.” As a member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers, he is tasked with promoting his trade and his participation is one way to do so. Glisson will also host the North American Knot Tyers Convention downtown in October.

He got involved in the trade as a “survival technique,” he jokes – when he tasked with teaching his son’s Boy Scout troop how to tie knots. His son is now a senior in the Speed School of Engineering and has adopted his own preferred trade as a blade smith. Glisson’s younger son gravitated to origami, his daughter picked up sewing and needlework, and his wife is a prolific tailor.

This year, Glisson took a different approach with his artwork, tying knots around carabiners brought together by a single golden feather. The feather, he says, was inspired by the leadership style of COO Joseph Han

Judy Hughes, from the Office of Communications and Marketing, jumped into basketry after witnessing a demonstration at a Bardstown Road Aglow event. Intrigued, she signed up for classes and fell in love – with the people, the teachers, the variety of materials. She has since completed hundreds of baskets.

“It’s nice to complete things and to have something to show for your work,” she said.

Andrew Marsh, assistant director of the Conn Center, is displaying a sculpture made of steel and found objects. The piece, titled “Apocalyptic Poppy,” was the first of his works to explore the “emergence from trauma,” he said.

“Over the last three decades of making, I have continued to utilize repurposed and discarded materials to render beauty from agony, and create the art of a survivor,” he said. 

Ann Windchy, associate professor of oral health and rehabilitation, has two paintings in the show – one of which is of The Thinker wearing a bright red tie.

“He belongs behind the desk of a UofL graduate,” she said.

Katy O’Toole, a development associate, has two large paintings, including one titled “Like A Fish Needs A Bicycle And A Hot Air Balloon,” inspired by Irina Dunn’s famous catch phrase popularized by Gloria Steinem.

“Watching Steinem speak at the Women’s March on Washington was one of the many moments of clarity in these past two years and I hope this whimsical tribute resonates with other feminists in turn,” O’Toole said.

CEHD professor Kate Snyder’s tiny cross-stich pieces offer a way to relax from faculty life, she says.

“I found that it was even more fun when I created the designs myself,” she said. “The nicest thing about tiny cross-stitch projects is that they wrap up a lot more quickly than long projects.”

Software developer Mark Strickland’s “Angels of Frankfort” photography piece uses a technique that incorporates a digital light stick.

“The subjects are photographed at night in downtown Frankfort using a digital camera and a flash. The lens of the camera is set at a high F-stop to not let in very much light and taken with a 10-second exposure. The flash illuminates the subject then the photographer steps behind the subject and activites the light stick while moving across the frame behind the subject,” Strickland explains. “Because of the very high F-stop lens setting, the image of the photographer is not captures but the digital image displayed by the light stick becomes the translucent wings.”

Maria Tinnell, a graphic designer in the Office of Communications and Marketing, submitted three coiled linen baskets inspired by spring flowers.

Mary Boyd, from Advancement, has knitted hats out of yak down and nylon, as well as baby alpaca.

Bethany Poston is showing a painting that she learned how to create by watching YouTube. “I just thought I’d try it,” she said.

Ruby Backert’s pinkerton quilt includes a number of hidden symbols, such as a yellow butterfly and a red bird. Hiding these objects was fun, she said.

This is just a small glimpse of the artwork that will be on display beginning June 11 through June 28. The show takes place in the Photographic Archives Gallery, Archives & Special Collections, in the East Wing, Lower Level of Ekstrom Library. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

An artists’ reception will be held June 19 from noon to 2 p.m.

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Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is editor of UofLNews and UofL Today. She joined UofL in 2015 as communications director of the Brandeis School of Law. Prior, she was the editorial director of foodservice media for Networld Media Group, where her work was featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine. She continues to serve as a contributor for many publications, including QSRweb.com, FastCasual.com and Innovation Leader.