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Out in the World: Creative Practice by CR Alumni

Out in the World: Creative Practice by CR Alumni

Published on 11/12/2020.

The Morris Graves Museum proudly presents Out in the World: Creative Practice by CR Alumni. The exhibition will be on display from November 14 through January 3, 2021.

This year marks the Morris Graves’ 20th anniversary. With this celebratory year of exhibition planning, the Museum’s curator Jemima Harr was inspired to create an exhibition featuring the work of outstanding College of the Redwoods alumni.  Harr invited Shannon Sullivan, a longtime faculty in the Art Department at CR, to co-curate the show. Included in the exhibition are culture makers living and working locally, regionally, and nationally. Artists who completed significant foundational training in the CR Art Department were selected based on a sustained commitment to a creative practice outside of an academic setting. Artist include Blake Reagen, Carissa Clark, Cicely Suhayda, Crystal Thorpe, Diane James, Dominique Birdsong, Jake Langston, Jon Bout, Julia Hayes, Meredith DeWess, Meredith Ethel Smith, Mir DeSilva, Patrick Kingshill, Ro Lozano, and Shawnie Personius. 

This exhibition showcases the variety of paths College of the Redwoods art alumni take with their careers. Included in this show are paintings, photographs, digital collage, mixed media sculpture, ceramic design, printmaking, works on paper, tattooing, mixed media installation with video projection, and studio pottery. Attempting to reveal the nuances with which these artists engage in their communities was a large part of the impetus for creating this exhibition. The show highlights the success of College of the Redwoods trained artists in traditional art careers. Blake Reagen, for example, is an artist whose murals and utility box you have likely seen in Eureka. His monumental portrait outside the Speakeasy in Old Town and his blocks-long strip of ecstatic color on the corners of sixth and E streets are two recent examples.

The show also seeks to celebrate the important creative work CR graduates do to heal and support others in our community. Shawnie Personius is an artist who makes work about memory and childhood trauma. Her work in the exhibition features ceiling mounted ceramic cocoon forms comingling with projections of hand-written poetry. While maintaining an active creative practice, Shawnie is a Master’s candidate pursuing her Licensed Clinical Social Work credential, and will open a non-profit Expressive Arts healing studio in the future.  Crystal Thorpe is an art facilitator, working to foster the creative growth of visionary artists and artist of all abilities through Trajectory, a DreamMaker Project of The Ink People. She frequently works with clients who are enrolled in CR art classes. Her sculptural portrait included in Out in the World combines wool, fabric, polymer, and gouache and is based on her personal experience with the COVID-19 lockdown.

The exhibition is accompanied by a color catalog with a spread for each artist that reveals what they’re doing now and reflects on how studying art at CR continues to inform their path. In the book, Carissa Clark, an artist, volunteer, student, and arts administrator living in Oakland, states, “In the vibrant and generous classrooms at College of the Redwoods, I felt supported, challenged, and humbled as an artist. There was always someone to lift up, and there was always someone to learn from. I learned how to critically develop my ideas, how to communicate about my work, how to see with the eyes of a craftsperson. The skills I developed in sculpture, ceramics, writing, drawing, painting, and welding courses have never stopped serving me. When growing up in a rural community, even one that values the arts, the idea of pursuing a career in art can feel unrealistic and out of reach. Through my education at CR, I gained the confidence and skills to commit to the creative practice that makes me come alive.” 

Support for this exhibition was made possible by the CR Foundation, which believes that the College of the Redwoods Art Department is a great place to invest in art education. Marty Coelho, Executive Director for College Advancement and the CR Foundation, said, “Art is even more important now during these times of economic, social, and political turmoil. Humboldt and Del Norte Counties have a long history of supporting the arts and understanding the value the arts bring to their communities.”

The museum is not allowed to host gatherings, but the space will be open during regular business hours, which are Wed-Sun 12pm - 5pm. Closed: New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve.  The catalog can be purchased through the Morris Graves Museum. Contact Jemima Harr for additional details. (707) 442-0278



1.         Carissa Lillian Clark, Inheritance, 2020, Photograph of a linocut on my arms, 24” x 36”

2.         Blake Reagen Nuclear Reagen, 2019, Painting on board, 25”x25”

3.         Shawnie Personius, Stale Gravity, 2019, mixed media installation, dimensions variable

4.         Jon Bout, Oma and Tante, Mixed media on paper 18x24


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  2019 College of the Redwoods