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ArtBank7: No stranger among us

ArtBank7, back row, left to right: Karen Bonanno, Erika Larskaya, Sara Conklin, Copper Tritscheller. Front Row, left to right: Shona Curtis and Jen Abbott-Tillou

In ArtBank7’s first group show, “No Stranger Among Us,” the artists group celebrates the profound power of community connection through creative expression.

Using a variety of artistic mediums, six artists tell their unique stories in a collective spirit. They interweave personal narratives with universal truths, often giving voice to the marginalized or amplifying stories that have been overlooked or silenced. The exhibition aims to serve as a springboard for further conversation that dismantles the barriers that can divide us and advances wider empathy.

“No Stranger Among Us,” installation view
“No Stranger Among Us,” installation view
“No Stranger Among Us,” installation view
“No Stranger Among Us,” installation view

By illuminating the integral role each of us plays in forming a community, the exhibition beckons viewers to engage with the artwork on an emotional as well as a visual level. It also looks to bolster the idea that in acknowledging the humanity of each person we encounter, we can dissolve the notion of exclusion.

ArtBank7 was born in February 2023 from a handful of Torrington, Connecticut-based artists seeking to connect with other creative and like-minded people. Feeling “safe” in community was its driving force. With that in mind, the group discussed, viewed, and critiqued art in monthly meetings, and extended support, encouragement, and advice to one another. Starting essentially as strangers, these six women have formed a strong bond from their mutual need to create work that represents who they are. They have distilled the experience as follows:

In the beginning our only requirement was that we show up for the meetings. From there we became inspired and motivated by each other. Although our work and mediums differ, we share the artist’s heart and mind with both the creative energy and the challenges. In the safe container we have created we have been able to share our stories, our strengths and vulnerabilities, as well as support each other as humans and artists. Over the course of time we discovered that we shared many challenges common to women, several of which are reflected in our work. Telling our personal story through our work is a way of speaking, or showing, our truth. We believe that showing our truth will encourage others to feel safe and seen in their own.

Images of some work and words from each artist:

Jen Abbout-Tillou Boundaries, 2023; mixed media, vintage display case, pelvic bone, fabric, LED; 40 x 27 x 27 inches
Jen Abbout-Tillou Boundaries, detail, 2023; mixed media, vintage display case, pelvic bone, fabric, LED; 40 x 27 x 27 inches.

Jen Abbott-Tillou, interdisciplinary artist. ”Healing happens when we face, admit to, and accept life’s inevitable challenges. Darkness/Light – no difference. My work has always been about contrast – Beauty and Pain, Strength and Vulnerability, Power and Letting Go, Holding and Thanking. My most recent work reflects the shamanic healing principle and spiral process of death and rebirth.”

Karen Bonanno, Modern Family, 2023, oil on canvas, 33 x 30.5 inches.36 mixed Media 2023.lores

Karen Bonanno, painter. “Although my paintings are totally invented or imagined memories, I have a strong personal connection to my subject matter. In approaching my work I try to explore the relationship between form and emotion, using the physicality of my mark making to communicate deeper emotional aspects about myself and others.”

Sara Conklin Good Fences 20” x 24” Mixed media 2023.lores

Sara Conklin, painter. “This body of mixed media work is inspired by the collaboration of the ArtBank7 group show titled ‘No Stranger Among Us.’ I wanted to revisit trauma, both physical and emotional, which can separate us or bond us. And, despite appearances, how each of us struggles every day to be whole and thrive.”

Shona Curtis Me as He, He as Me 7.5” x 7.5” Original photography woven 2023

Shona Curtis, photographer. “My work explores the relationship to the body as it relates to gender, identity, self-worth, intimacy, and isolation. Weaving images provides a way for me to visually represent the interplay between these concepts. Self-portraits are a vehicle to express the personal and the universal experience.”

Erika Larskaya, Layers #12, 22023, mixed media, 36 x 36 inches.

Erika Laskarya, painter. “Working with the concept of life’s layers and interconnected, dynamic complexities; the highs and lows, triumphs and setbacks, and the search for meaning in those experiences. My work aims to embrace the uncertainty and imperfections in order to accept and appreciate the beauty in the ebb and flow of life.”

Copper Tritscheller, Horse #3, 2023, bronze, 11.5h inches.

Copper Tritscheller, sculptor. “My work explores resilience and the interconnection between life and environment. Through animals, I blur the lines between body and circumstance, focusing on adaptation to what we cannot control and the losing, gaining, and reshaping of life. How do we find strength and hope, to not only move forward, but to also make space for what may still grow.”

ArtBank7: No Stranger Among Us,” Alofft, 41 West Street, Litchfield, CT. Sep 30 – Oct 29, 2023. An online catalogue is available here.

Note: ArtBank7 is honored to support The Susan B. Anthony Project as they celebrate their 40th Anniversary of assisting our community by offering services for the prevention of and support for people healing from domestic violence and sexual assault.

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