Woman tries to keep local art scene alive

Carbondale may not be a metropolitan paradise when it comes to art, but there’s more to the scene than what is first visible.

Busy schedules and unfamiliarity with the area may prevent a stronger bond between the university and community art scenes, something people in both communities are working to improve.

Chris McKinley, owner of local art boutique Dayshift, said she doesn’t think there’s enough communication between the university and artists outside of it and vice versa. She said both sides would benefit if there were more.

When students don’t get out into the art community around them, McKinley said, they miss out on a different audience for their work.

Grace Paschall, left, a sophomore from Carbondale studying art, and Hunter Erdmann, a freshman from Byron studying art, finish sketches Wednesday during class in the Glove Factory. Paschall said she has started to get involved in the local art community and despite Carbondale’s size, she thinks it has a lot to offer for those interested in the arts. Isaac Smith | Daily Egyptian

“While the students are here, it’s their city too,” she said.

Ellyn Theis, a freshman from Batavia studying industrial design, said coming from the Chicago area, Carbondale is comparatively limited in terms of resources for artists and inspiration.

She said while there doesn’t seem to be enough outreach from outside into the student art community, she hasn’t had much of a chance to get out into the city’s scene yet and see what’s going on, which is her main goal.

“It’s my second semester and my first art classes, so it’s getting my feet in the water,” she said.

Of the 70 artists whose work is featured at Dayshift, only about 13 of them are current students, McKinley said. However, about half of them are alumni.

McKinley said she thinks part of the reason that might be the case is that while students are going to school, they’re too busy with classwork to get out and find the art community around them.

She said she’d also like to see more events such as the upcoming Love at the Glove, which is open to art from both students and

She’s attempted to get student interns in her boutique to open a bridge to the campus, she said, and she still plans to.

While there may not be as much connection between the two communities as she’d like there to be, McKinley said she doesn’t think it has anything to do with a lack of interest on the students’ part.

The relationship between the campus and the city art scenes is actually progressive and stronger than it has been in the past, said Najjar Abdul-Musawwir, associate professor and head of undergraduate studies in the school of art and design.

The previous three chairs of the department, including current chair Peter Chametzky, have worked to bring the campus and city art communities closer, he said.

Chametzky said the school tries to get first-year students involved in the art culture as much as possible, and the high number of alumni artists in the area help bridge the gap between the university and the city.

Students have a number of opportunities to interact with the city’s art scene, including the school’s artist in residence program and showings at the Varsity Center for the Arts, the Civic Center and events hosted by Carbondale Community Arts, he said.

Projects with Attucks Community Service and the School of Art and Design’s art education program also give students the chance to explore art with local children, he said.

However, he said he thinks one thing students would like to see but doesn’t happen in Carbondale is a major arts festival, combining various mediums including film, fine arts, music and literature.

Cory Perkins, a freshman from Chicago studying art, said he’s not aware of much of an art scene outside of the school’s, but it would be good to get involved with one.

“It’s helpful to have an art culture around you so you know you’re not the only one,” he said.

Efrain Martinez, a graduate student in art from Los Angeles, said he thinks many art students don’t  know much about the greater art culture in Carbondale at first, but as they’re here longer, they become more acquainted with it through various events and contact with artists.

It’s easy to not read a newspaper ad or see a flyer, but for those interested, they’ll eventually catch on, he said.

McKinley said she does some advertising through flyers on campus, but at the moment she can’t do any more.

Once students do find out about the art scene outside of the university, they will find that it’s more vibrant than they might have thought.

“They might be pleasantly surprised,” she said.


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