Blue Connection Hosts After 5 Live: “From the Edge”

Emily Chudzik

On Friday, March 4, Blue Connection and Decatur Arts Council hosted an After 5 Live event featuring work from senior BFA art therapy major Kat Scarim and senior BA art education major Katie Stitzel. Millikin students, faculty, and members of the community were all invited for the premiere of the gallery. Lock Stock and Barrel catered the event and provided drinks, which proved to be quite popular.

“Blue Connection does this [After 5 Live] the first Friday of every month. They choose different artists, and Katie and I got selected for the March show,” Scarim said. “Our print making was featured along with a few paintings that went with the prints.”

Scarim commented that it is sometimes hard for students to get people to come to their shows. However, their show was an exception. “The show was great! People came out and it was awesome. We sold half of our stuff- it was absolutely great,” Scarim said.

To be exact, they sold 13 pieces of framed prints altogether. “It was unbelievable,” Stitzel said. “The highlight of the night was when I walked in a half hour before the show was supposed to start and three of my prints had sold stickers underneath them. It was very fulfilling,” Stitzel said.

“I intern with an organization called Our Voice through Art, [which is] a program for high school students with special needs. My favorite part of the show was when one of my students and her mom came to the show,” Scarim said.

One of the most unique things about the show was that there were live print making demonstrations by Scarim and Stitzel.  The process was condensed to about a half hour, but the artists thought it was good for people to see how prints are made.

“I like to think of print making as elegant stamping. You take a Plexiglas or zinc plate and carve into them with different tools. Then, you ink it up and put a piece of paper on top, run it through a press, and the etching and paint transfers onto it. I like to go back with water colors or acrylic, but you don’t have to,” Scarim said.

Stitzel described print making as an “interesting” process. “It’s really sophisticated stamping. It’s a fun process, but it’s really complicated and intricate. If you mess up one layer, you have to [either] start over or find a really creative way to fix it,” Stitzel said.

Art has always been a part of Stitzel’s life. “In high school, art classes and extra-curriculars were the only reason I wanted to go to school. I decided in about the sixth grade that I wanted to be a teacher. I remember that I loved doing coloring books with my mom when I was younger, and I would get mad that she could stay inside the lines so well. I wanted to be as good as her,” Stitzel said.

Stitzel will be student teaching next semester. After that, she plans to apply for the Chicago Center, where she would live with five to ten other school teachers. “Currently, I’m working at a school with graduating classes of 44 students. Chicago is a big transition, but I want to be well rounded and experience a little bit of everything,” Stitzel said.

Scarim, on the other hand, was always creatively inclined but had never taken an art class when she was younger. “I was studying international relations at U of I my freshman and sophomore year. I was pretty unhappy and uninspired, so I dropped out and took a step back. I took up yoga, traveled, and made art on my year off,” Scarim said.

Her year off also introduced her to her current major. “I was volunteering at a homeless shelter and saw how big of an impact art therapy had. I plan on going to grad school and for my masters and get my license. I have a feeling I’ll go back to my roots and work in homeless shelters or prison, because that’s when it all sort of clicked for me,” Scarim said.

Both artists are so grateful to Millikin and to their professors. They would not be where they are without the aid and assurance of the university and the art department. They would like to thank all who came out to the show. Their art will be displayed at the Blue Connection for the remainder of March, so if you missed the opening, you still have a chance to see some incredible art by some very inspiring women.