Oxford, Ohio – Art often invites contradiction.
How else does something as private as prayer and meditation make its way into the very public gallery space at the Oxford Community Arts Center?
In the midst of a hectic period at her day job as Director of Exhibitions at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts – more on that below - Cathy Mayhugh found time to create a series of 10 stitched-paper pieces called Free Form to fill a gallery at the Oxford Community Arts Center starting May 12.
Free Form is part of Oxford Community’s 2nd Friday Celebration that also includes work by Rick Jones, students of Howard Krauss and Talawanda Middle School artists, as well as music by Ron Hautau and Sara Pate.
Mayhugh’s first solo series since her undergraduate days at Miami University, Free Form marks a return to personal creation in addition to displaying the works of others.
“This is a new kind of reawakening of my creativity,” she said. “I feel like I’ve always been creative in my work as a curator, but in the last five years or so, I’ve started making my own work again. I’ve had a few pieces in group shows the last few years, but I haven’t had a solo in about 30 years.
“Organically, and over time, the stitched paper creates sculptural forms. I look at these pieces as active meditations. The process of creating them is kind of like a prayer or a meditation. Stitching – the physical act of piecing the paper together – is where I find my center.”
Which isn’t to say she’s entirely comfortable at the center of her own gallery show. Or that the work is entirely comforting, despite its meditative qualities.
“I’m a very private person. I would hide at home all the time if I could, but I also care about people and our world. I don’t like being in the spotlight. A prayer is a very private thing, but here I am standing up and saying look at me praying and meditating. I have mixed emotions. I’m excited and scared.
“There are some themes of injustice, of human rights, in this work. Things in today’s world that are challenging or concerning. The act of creating them is to put good energy into the world.”
She hopes viewers feel that energy and add their own in whatever way they can.
“The pieces may make them ask questions and/or think in a different way, or just to go away inspired to be creative themselves. I hope the energy that comes from them is positive.”
Mayhugh said the gallery where Free Form goes adds to that positive feeling.
“The quality of the light in that room is very important to the artwork,” she said. “This artwork is very activated by light. Some of the pieces will be suspended from the ceiling. Some will be wall hangings that will create shadows behind them. It’s just a beautiful space.”
Mayhugh has been filling and refilling the gallery spaces at the Fitton Center for more than 20 years. As she puts the finishing touches on her pieces for Free Form, she’s also curating and hanging a huge, juried art competition – the 51st Hamilton Current Exhibition - opening May 6.
She’ll also host the closing reception for the Hamilton High School freshman art students April 26, before striking their show in the Fitton Community Gallery and – starting April 28 - welcoming in about 200 more pieces for the annual showcase of work by Stephen T. Badin High School art students.
“It’s a very busy time,” Mayhugh said. “But it’s great to have – and to be a part of - such an active local arts community.”
See more details on the Oxford Community Arts Center 2nd Friday Celebration right here; Mayhugh’s Free Form exhibition runs through June 3.
The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.
Building Community Excellence through the Arts and Culture