by Kristen Farley
Cedarville professors Zac Benson and Annie Lee-Zimerle will present art installments at the Springfield Museum of Art. They will attend the reception for the exhibit’s official opening on Feb. 16, and the artwork will remain on display for two months after.
Lee-Zimerle will partner with her husband, Brian Zimerle, in their second two-person exhibition. The husband and wife duo work together thematically in different artistic mediums.
“I deal with a lot of things: from our culture, to identity, [and] even political issues. That’s all there. But in a way, my work is kind of about me,” Lee-Zimerle said.
“I approach it that way because I want to approach something I had personally experienced, and bring it to the table so our audience can connect through my experience.”
As an artist who makes 2D images, the medium and the process is just as important to Lee-Zimerle. For example, for a series on the experiences of being a wife, Lee-Zimerle purposefully chose the painstaking method of block printing. This process involves an initial sketch, which is hand carved or etched onto a wood or metal plate, inked, and applied to a medium.
“I wanted to engage myself in the making process, where everything has to be so perfectly planned with prints. With a print, if you carve that block out, there’s no attaching it back, it’s done,” Lee-Zimerle said. “Living with the mistakes you have made in the process of printmaking is a learning experience. You have to try to embrace it somehow change your plan to make it work — Kind of like a life of being a wife! You are, in a way, partnering with another human being in this broken world. All of that comes to my process.”
For Lee-Zimerle, the deliberation behind her art is an extension of her Christian life.
“For us, it’s not just creating a great or a pretty picture. It’s about our walk with Christ.” she said.
Benson deals with the collision of contemporary social issues and faith through his sculptures. His art has addressed topics such as abortion, the proposed wall between Mexico and the U.S., and the the recent murder of a transgender teenager in Missouri. The installation in Springfield will specifically address the Syrian refugee crisis.
One of the more labor-intensive installations was inspired by a document released by the UNITED network, “The List,” which has tracked the number of refugee casualties caused by the closed border policies of Europe since 1993. When Benson had first heard of the document this past year, the death toll was numbered around 25,000 men, women and children. The current toll stands at roughly 34,000.
As a memorial to these lives, Benson has unleashed 25,000 threads, suspended onto ceiling panels.
“When people walk through the gallery, they’re going to walk through this, and they’re going to feel every single one of those strands,” Benson said.
In the center of the display will be the representation of a lifeboat, accompanied by an audio track of waves from the island of Lespos, where many refugees have found a watery grave in an attempted escape. The threads are orange, to match the meager life preservers so many refugees wear.
Benson hopes to minister to the needs refugees in some way through his art, and prompt others to consider their plight.
“If you’re a believer, pray for them,” Benson said. “If you’re an unbeliever, hopefully, this will spur you on to try to do something. That’s a lot of individuals who are no longer with us. I think we need to care, even though they are not in our nation, in our city, or state, or county, they are still humans.”
The Springfield Museum of the arts is located 13 miles (a 20-minute drive) away from Cedarville. Both professors highly encourage university students to visit the two-month installment, which opens Saturday, Feb. 16.
Kristen Farley is a junior English major. She enjoys puppies, puns, people, and alliteration. And occasionally sleep.