Getting wrapped up in current events and politics is an easy thing to do, especially in the social media-driven discourse the country — and world — finds itself in. But local artist Anna Kaye was able to harness the energy from the first Women's March in 2017 and turn it into an arts collective dedicated to creating works based on important issues of the day, a collective called Pink Progression.
“I was astounded by how many came out to march, and afterwards I asked some artist friends to keep the momentum going,” Kaye explained. “Every exhibit we do focuses on a different theme, all around social action and creating social change.”
The collective's latest exhibition, “Pink Progression: Collaborations,” is currently on display in all three of Arvada Center's, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., galleries through Nov. 8. They are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. To allow for social distancing and capacity limitations, the Center has started a reservation system for the exhibition.
The show's focus on collaboration means every piece on display is the result of at least two creatives working together. About 120 creatives of all ages and backgrounds participated, with the vast majority hailing from Colorado. Sometimes it was a pair of artists, but it could also be an artist and poet, filmmaker or even a choir. Many of the pieces are confined to wall space, but there are numerous works that make use of installation space in wildly creative ways, and mediums. This includes one work that uses bobcat taxidermy forms, another that uses silk sheets and one that creates a kind of woodland area in just a few feet.
“The initial concept of their work revolved around aerial photographs of geologic changes due to global warming, such as ice sheets melting and salt lakes drying up,” wrote artists Katie Caron and Lisa DiMichele about their piece, “Novel Landscape.” “The work has shifted vision to the virus, represented in polymer clay, consuming and spreading onto the aerial landscape. These forms represent the actual deaths from Covid-19 in Colorado, and forms will continue to be added to the composition throughout the exhibition as cases continue to rise.
The topics the pieces comment on range from environmental and civil rights to LGBTQ+ issues and women's suffrage — which is especially potent as this year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which enshrined the women's right to vote. The messages are sometimes plain, sometimes subtle, but retain their power, no matter the method.
Preparing the exhibit and getting it set up in the Center proved extremely challenging once the country entered the COVID-19 shut down in March and the following months, but Emily King, galleries exhibition manager and lead curator, along with Kaye and Collin Parson, were able to get the works set up in time for an opening that was delayed until July 3.
“So many shows and exhibitions were cancelled during the shutdown, so artists were thrilled to have this exhibit open,” King said. “I hope people who come see the exhibit are open and allow themselves to question their own thoughts. Seeing the artists' views are really powerful.”
It's fitting that the exhibit runs until just five days after Election Day, and the hope for Kaye, the Arvada Center and many of the artists is that people who view the works will be sparked to engage with others and learn more about differing viewpoints.
“The exhibit creates an artistic window into other people's minds and allows us to view their perspectives and passions,” Kaye said. “At its best it promotes more conversation and more openness to new perspectives.”