Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Dominique Martinez-Powell |
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Connect, create, participate: Art in the Garden

Mo Collar
Artist works on painting at Art in the Garden at Mandala Gardens October 7, 2023 in Marion, Ill.

Mandala Gardens located in Marion, Illinois, was the beautiful venue for the Art in the Garden event hosted on Oct. 7. Artists set up shop in the gardens for the day, many of them creating pieces while people looked on.

The event had many booths selling a variety of products, such as candles, knit animals, wall art, soaps and glassware.

“It’s building community through the arts. Our goal was to pull from the local area of southern Illinois,” said Michele Aitchison, co-founder of Monday Art Social.


The project team that was behind the event was a combination of local artists, art studios and volunteer workers. Union Street Arts in Marion played a large part in putting the event together, along with Project Human X and the group Monday Art Social. These groups worked for many months preparing for the event.

“I never thought it would actually happen, then all these people came together and I feel like they were just meant to be a part of this experience because it makes it a better thing,” Aitchison said.

The event started at 9 a.m. and continued until 7 p.m. The morning consisted of Dane Johns, Heather Hammers and Jon Raby performing live music.

“We wanted to bring unity through our community through the arts. There was a lot of amazing art,” said Luke O’Neill, owner of Union Street Arts.

In the afternoon, more music was performed by SIWADE – the Southern Illinois West African Drum Ensemble. They played live music for the event while setting the tone for an open drum circle.

Anyone at the event was encouraged to participate in the drum circle on the lawn of Mandala Gardens. People of many ages sat in a circle and made music together from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

“The vibrational frequency when you drum is very uplifting and very healing. It’s community based so we’re encouraging people to join us,” Aitchison said.


Law of Love took the stage to perform music next. This was an extension of people from Project Human X and their friends. They played until Hope Fiend and Danny Brown took over to end the night.

During the event, there was a live mural painting and the creation of an installation. The installation was inspired by the Burning Man Art Festival where installations are built and burned in the desert.

“I’m personally inspired by the Burning Man Art Festival, so we did that here with the manual installation that we built and so we tried to tie in some of our festival aspects as well,” O’Neill said.

The event had something for every age group that visited. During the drum circle, many people were dancing while others sat in the Sketchbook Cafe, which was set up in the gazebo where pastries and coffee was served while people had the opportunity to draw.

“I feel like people don’t allow creativity in their lives because of busyness. When you make time for that, it’s like it’s kind of a reset for yourself because you’re not on your phone,” Aitchison said.



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