Longtime artist Leeza Dukes is working with different companies to help showcase various artists of color for the second year, again showcasing the work throughout Owensboro and other surrounding cities.
Dukes set out last year trying to allow the selected artists to gain exposure in different communities they otherwise may not have been in. After the success, the artists reached out wanting to do it again.
In Owensboro, the works will be showcased at Independence Bank, Daviess County Public Library, and Fetta Specialty Pizza.
This year Dukes has 8 artists that will have works on display ranging from sculpture to painting and photography.
Mattie Johnson, a California native, has been painting since she was 6 years old and art is a way for her to touch other people and express her view on the world.
“My medium is life. I started with drawing and then I’ve gone through different kinds of mediums like metal and clay,” Johnson said.
A lot of her work focuses on the human body and its relationship with nature, others, and God. When Johnson is not using clay and drawing, she uses copper to illustrate the world around her.
Fellow artist Sean Wallace said that he too uses metal for his work. While Johnson is attracted to the colors of copper, Wallace is attracted to how he is able to bend and warp barbed wire to create a message beyond its typical use.
“The message behind the art is transformation… How do we get from where we are to where we were designed to be? And so I love it because it speaks to every person on this planet’s life,” Wallace said.
Wallace said everything is art in his opinion — it can be in clothing one picks out in the morning, or even a daily routine. Just like using barbed wire for art, he has to pay attention to detail and do things a certain way for it to come out right in the end.
“I can’t rush it. It’s the same thing with life if we don’t pay attention to the detail of our lives, then we’re not going get the thoroughness of that life,” he said.
Both Johnson and Wallace said society needs art and the stories the works tell. By joining Dukes, they are able to showcase not only their work but contribute to an atmosphere in the city.
“If you don’t have art within a community, I feel that there isn’t any life. Because throughout life art has always been an expression of how the artist feels. It’s very vital for a community and you see that throughout history,” Johnson said.
So getting the chance to display their work not only across Owensboro but also Henderson and Evansville for the entire month of February is something special.
Both have had their work displayed in museums and galleries; however, by putting their work in common places such as restaurants and businesses, it takes the art to the audience instead of the opposite.
“It’s not just for people that are interested and specifically go to a museum,” Johnson said. “It’s taking art where everybody is, it’s giving them better exposure to everybody.”