MT. VERNON – Much of artist Alma Petry's work is concerned with finding beauty in unlikely places – such as in a cracked wall or damaged piece of paneling.
Her interest in this subject matter comes, in part, from having spent years working in factories and warehouses. While some may view such surroundings as “gray and dull,” others might find them beautiful in their own way, Petry said.
“My work kind of revolves around what I've seen throughout my life,” said Petry, a Mt. Vernon resident. “My work's abstract, (but) it does come from a source – all those years working in places with no windows.”
Petry will be one of the artists featured in the upcoming Cedarhurst Biennial competition and exhibition, which runs from Aug. 4 through Oct. 13 at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts.
The contest, held every other year, was formerly known as The Southern Illinois Artists Open Competition and Exhibition. Organizers say the name change signals a new emphasis on contemporary art. This is the 25th year of the competition.
“We've got a beautiful variety of different art forms,” said Rusty Freeman, director of visual arts for Cedarhurst. “It's a great show.”
Over 50 artworks will be featured in the competition in a variety of forms, including painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics, and more.
Cash awards will be offered to the winners. The top prize for Best of Show is $2,500. First, Second and Third Place will receive $1,000, $500, and $250, respectively.
Petry will have a piece of free-form origami in the competition called “Wall.” Made entirely of folded brown paper, the piece depicts, in an abstract way, a section of dilapidated wall space.
To Petry, the Cedarhurst Biennial is a great opportunity to showcase local and regional talent.
“It's kind of a hidden gem of Southern Illinois,” Petry said.
Artist Annelies Heijnen of Mt. Vernon will have a ceramic sculpture in the competition called “Cityscape 2.” She said the Biennial will feature a wide range of artists, not only from Southern Illinois but from places like St. Louis and Louisville, Ky.
“I think it's a wonderful forum because it exposes a lot of different artists,” Heijnen said.
Three expert judges will evaluate the artwork for this competition. They include Jeff Hughes, a history of art professor at Webster University; Arny Nadler, a professor of art at Washington University; and Terry Suhre, director of Gallery 210 at the University of Missouri.
Each judge comes to the table with a vast knowledge of contemporary art, as well as a familiarity with this region, Freeman said. Organizers recruit new judges for each year's competition.
“It brings fresh eyes to the curatorial process,” Freeman said. “(The judges) have an understanding of how an art object relates back to everyday concerns.”
The exhibition preview and awards presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 3 at the Mitchell Museum Beal Grand Corridor at Cedarhurst. All participating artists and their families are invited to the preview. The exhibit opens to the general public starting Aug. 4.
For more information, contact Cedarhurst at 242-1236.