artworkersThe exhibit ArtWorkers: Creativity and America will run from May 16 – July 7 at the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts at 222 West Third Street at Wall in Joplin.

Grand opening for members and the public will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 16.  Admission is by voluntary contribution, with a suggested donation of $2 per adult and $1 for students.

Josie Mai of the MSSU Art Department helped write a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant for this exhibit.

“The event is interdisciplinary,” she says. “People from all areas at Missouri Southern and in the community are invited.”

The success of the exhibit may well depend on your willingness to add to it.  Everyone who visits ArtWorkers is invited to add something to the exhibit. Bring photocopies of your favorite family photos for Stories: Place and Family, on display in Spiva’s Third Street window gallery.

ArtWorkers examines how Americans view themselves and the country they live in – through art. Contribute small red, white, or blue items to the evolving three-dimensional U.S. flag. Take your picture with a “diversity mask” and see how it feels. Create your own American ‘zine, design a better President, or pose with the Statue of Liberty banner and leave a note about something from which you’d like to be liberated!

Kansas City artist Hugh Merrill will be Spiva’s Artist in Residence on Saturdays during ArtWorkers.  Merrill’s work provides the exhibition’s themes: politics, American monuments, environment and ecology, family and diversity. With these topics as backdrops, visitors will encounter America as envisioned by “art workers” from several disciplines and, at the same time, have the opportunity to join the discussion by using their own creativity.

Joining Merrill as curators are MSSU faculty members Josie Mai, Dr. Stacey Barelos, and Dr. Joey Brown. In addition to Merrill and Mai, contributing visual artists include Gene Arehart, Sandra Conrad, Jacque Moody McDonald, Kyle McKenzie, Jason Stamper, Michael Steddum, and Michael Strahan.  Also involved will be Dr. Barry Brown and Kristine Steddum of the English & Philosophy Department and MSSU Art and English majors.

ArtWorkers and The Lincoln Room are supported in part by the award from the National Endowment for the Arts and by Eagle Picher Technologies, LLC. Additional financial assistance comes from the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

The gallery is from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday–Saturdays and 1 -5 p.m. on  Sundays.

For more information, contact Mai at ext. 3115 or mai-j@mssu.edu or Jo Mueller, Spiva executive director at (417) 623-0183 or jmueller@spivaarts.org .