With the last fireworks lighting up the night sky on Independence Day, it can be hard to think of another reason to venture out into the stifling Texas summer this July.
Kristen Kendrick Bigley might have found just the way to get her local Denton community to brave the heat one more time this month though, thanks to the UNT CoLab’s latest exhibition, “square-d.”
The art exhibition will include more than 80 pieces from local community members of different ages and experience levels, all of whom started with only a blank 12-inch square canvas purchased at the CoLab. From there, the community members could create anything they wanted on their canvas as long as it was family-friendly, original art.
“It is a very wide range of styles of execution (and) subject matter,” Kendrick Bigley, the director of the UNT CoLab said of “square-d,” explaining that the exhibition will group the canvases into grids of four for display. “I think the fun part that we’re seeing in doing the groupings of four is that we’re going to be able to sort of curate these little moments within the exhibition that really do speak among each other and have a dialogue and a conversation between those four works. It’s going to be a really enjoyable way to experience this type of exhibition.”
The exhibition came about as a way to give the public a chance to share their art in a gallery setting while generating more interest and foot traffic for the CoLab during the sweltering summer.
“We receive a lot of inquiries locally for artists that would like to exhibit their work in this space, and we have a really limited calendar as far as slots that we have available to show individual exhibitions,” Kendrick Bigley said. “So, one of the purposes of this show was to give the public an opportunity to have their work shown on the (Downtown Denton) Square – to be able to exhibit their work in a public space.”
Kendrick Bigley said that the CoLab reached out to various community members to participate, encouraging them to “think outside the diameter of the canvas” when working on their art.
The result is a collection of unique, imaginative pieces that utilize materials like fibers, embroidery, resins and three-dimensional elements created by artists ranging from elementary school students to recognizable professional artists from the Denton community.
The CoLab will auction off the pieces created by well-known artists from well-known artists like Dan Black, John Bramblitt and Michael Bales at the opening reception for “square-d” from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on July 7, with the proceeds going towards the UNT Food Pantry.
In fact, attendees can purchase any of the pieces in the exhibition to help raise funds for the pantry. Aside from the auctioned pieces, each individual work will cost $25 and be available to pick up after the exhibition’s conclusion on July 29.
“We really wanted to give back and we wanted to find a way, since this was a community project if you will, where we were really engaging with the larger community to make it meaningful for them as well,” Kendrick Bigley said.
The community has certainly responded in kind, with Kendrick Bigley already discussing the possibility of hosting a second “square-d” exhibition if the CoLab’s schedule permits next year. She expects an enthusiastic response at the opening reception as well, where the artists will be able to see their pieces on display for the first time, and the public will first be able to purchase them.
“I think people will be really thrilled to see the diversity of the works and the creativity that’s on display,” Kendrick Bigley said, describing the variety of different approaches the local community has taken to creating their canvases.
“Square-d” runs from July 7-29 at the UNT CoLab. For more information, visit https://colab.unt.edu/.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.