Daily Egyptian

Local artists commemorate the eclipse

By Samantha Keebler

As an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 get ready to visit Carbondale, local artists have been preparing for the eclipse in their own ways.  

One of these eclipse crafters is Matt Sronkoski, an academic adviser in the College of Liberal Arts.

Sronkoski has been painting designs on t-shirts for years, but has recently made a business out of making celestial apparel.

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“I was just doing it for fun, if anything,” he said.

When a stranger complimented one of Sronkoski’s creations a year ago, he said it gave him the idea to make eclipse-themed tees.

Sronkoski bought a large piece of fabric, cut it into one-foot squares and started coming up with designs. Last Christmas, he decided to share his designs with the Facebook world.

“I got slammed,” he said. “In fact, I had to take a week off to get them done — I was so busy.”

Since then, he said he has accrued a large following. Initially, his customer base consisted of mostly friends and acquaintances, but now he sends hand-painted shirts to people across the country. He said he’s sold shirts to people from coast-to-coast and as far away as England.

Sronkoski said people enjoy the shirts because they are artistic and one-of-a-kind.

“It’s very cool seeing people walking around wearing one of my shirts,” he said. “I get a total kick out of it.”

With the total solar eclipse crossing over Carbondale in two days, Sronkoski said he has stocked up on over 300 shirts for the occasion. While the hand-painted shirts were made-to-order, for eclipse weekend he said he made designs that could be mass screen-printed to prepare for the influx of people.

Although he will be selling mostly printed shirts for the weekend, Sronkoski said he still has 30 hand-painted shirts available at the Makanda Market this weekend and on his website, www.pureexperiencewear.com.

Another Carbondale resident has commemorated the eclipse with another art form — music.

Singer/songwriter Mike Baltz wrote and recorded “The Eclipse,” an original piece about the reaction to eclipses throughout history.

“I love sort of thinking about the past,” Baltz said. “I always imagine how freaked out people were by eclipses historically.”

His fascination with the past can be heard in the lyrics of his song.

“I’d heard the tales when I was young of a day long ago when we lost the sun,” Baltz sings in the track.

Baltz collaborated with Shadi Frick, a fellow Carbondale resident and the man behind the melody. He said they wanted to imagine what an eclipse might sound like and find a way to put that sound into words.

“That was the creative challenge,” Baltz said.

Baltz, who has a degree in biology, said he has always taken an interest in the natural world.

“I wanted to also capture the fear and confusion that a lot of animals experienced during an eclipse,” he said, referring to the disorientation animals feel during the transition from light to dark.

However passionately Baltz feels about animals and the past, he said he is most enthusiastic about the underlying theme in his song.

“The deeper message, which I’m excited about, is how the eclipse can be a metaphor for life,” he said.

He said he wanted his song to parallel the juxtaposition of day and night with evil and good.

“You can be going through dark times and you can get really caught up in that, but if you hang in there, the light will usually return,” he said. “You have to make it through — to me, that’s the more important message.”

 Staff writer Samantha Keebler can be reached at [email protected]

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