69. 6th Annual Students' Exhibition by Heeyoung Kim & Brushwood Botanical Artists

6th Annual: Enriching Life

Botanical Art Exhibition by Heeyoung Kim & Brushwood Botanical  Artists.  

"Creating fellowship, discovering peace and healing during a Pandemic, these 20 artists sustained their connections with one another and with nature’s beauty.  Though they couldn’t meet safely in person, they found laughter, strength and focus in virtual gatherings.  Working alone at home, their joy in creative energy, spiritual and artistic growth overcame isolation. These works and works in progress are witness to the restorative power of nature, art and community."

    In normal time, this much anticipated exhibition should be mounted in the charming historic house, Brushwood Center surrounded by ancient oak trees in Ryerson Woods. Even in snowy midwest winter about 300 friends, family and locals gather and celebrate the beauty of nature and art inspired by her. 

   The night before its opening day, instead of getting ready to go to the opening reception in my best looking shoes, I am sitting in front of my laptop in my studio and writing this blog. Should I feel sad? Disappointed? Quite opposite. I brewed a strong cup of coffee to be fully awakened, and put together everything I can and launch the exhibit VIRTUALLY beyond the woodlands. 

   These 20 artists including me overcame the isolation through virtual meetings almost every week and shared our passion for botanical art. For some of us these weekly meetings were the only chances to see someone. I know it was not 'in-person' per se, but that was good enough.  but whenever someone popped into the screen our eyes sparkled with joy and relief. 

   After my Monday class at Brushwood Center on March 10, I checked out the Covid-19 situation globally and made my decision to shut down all in person classes. Soon the whole world had turned into a nightmare, as we know. In a few days the executive director of Brushwood Center, who is young and tech savvy, called me and talked about something like Zoom. My answer was .... "What is that?" 

   After lots of "Googlings", I decided to try it out. With my formal training as a teacher I felt pretty confident and invested two weeks learning what features are in Zoom Meeting platform, and how I can maximize its features to fit for the needs of my class. At the end of March I emailed my students and told them to follow the invitation link I sent. Of course, most of the responses were, "I am not sure if I can do that." or "I am too old to learn the new technology." :) Well, we tried, anyway. Guess what? We proved there is nothing we cannot learn. From the first week of April, all my regular classes were back on the track virtually in Zoom platform.

I thought I had to give up our annual student's exhibit this time due to the pandemic situation. It has not been easy to get the artworks scanned and get ready with perfect digital images. So, we decided to include the works in progress with photos snapped by our phones. The point is sharing, and being connected to each other through our favorite activities that keep us going no mater what. At the end of the day, this opportunity brings us joy and healing. 

And we were blessed with the beautiful "Meditation" from the opera Thais by Jules Massenet (recorded at the Brushwood Center front yard) performed by violinist, Philippe Quint and conductor, pianist and music director of Brushwood Center, Vladimir Kulenovic. That was a perfect harmony with botanical art, nature and music. Well done, everyone! I thank you, all for your contributions to this beautiful virtual exhibition! 

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