Gallery G Manchester
Thelma Rohrer, director of galleries, said that the exhibition was a “visual feast for the eyes.”
Photo provided by Gracianne Nohl

‘Alone Together: Visual Stories From a Pandemic’ Celebrates Art in Gallery G

Gracianne Nohl

This Sunday the art exhibit “Alone Together: Visual Stories From a Pandemic” in Gallery G was celebrated with a public art reception. A collection of 37 pieces from multiple artists in the Indiana Women’s Caucus for Art, the exhibit was installed May 5, 2022, and ran until Sept. 18, 2022.

The public art reception was located just outside the gallery in the Upper Switzer Center. Many of the artists of the exhibit attended to see the gallery and collect their artwork afterwards. It was a beautiful experience to watch as they got to interact, ask questions or catch up with one another.

The exhibition featured many different media including clay, paint, photography, pastel, and many more. Thelma Rohrer, director of galleries, she said that it was a “visual feast for the eyes.” She liked the diverse perspectives that each artist portrayed and the varied use of symbolism.

Many of the works involved nature, with flowers blooming, reflecting the time when the pandemic started. Indeed, most of the artwork was created in the spring of 2020 when quarantine began.

“Alone Together” was a longer show for Gallery G, as it ran for six months. According to Rohrer, the average amount of time for a show to run is one to three months but Covid-19 has affected the lengths of shows in many galleries.

For this exhibit, members of the Indiana Women’s Caucus for Art explored the challenges and unexpected opportunities posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, celebrated creativity and showcased work made during a time of change and uncertainty. Rohrer said using art could act as a release or coping mechanism for what was all happening. She even brought up how it could be used as a form of escapism from the topic of Covid.

For the exhibit Rohrer produced a booklet with information about the artists and their works. The booklet includes the name of the artist, the title of their work, the media used to create the work, an artist’s statement, and a Covid statement.

The booklet is especially intriguing because it has lots of text explanations for each piece but the actual exhibit has very little text. In the gallery each piece only had a small card with the artist’s name and artwork’s title. This allowed viewers to find their own connections and reflections in the artwork. Rohrer also produced the booklet so that the information was accessible for those who wanted it.

Judy Wenig-Horswell, an artist from Elkhart, described the challenge of creating art with a designated theme. She created “Survivors,” an ink paper drawing, and “Survivors 1 and 11,” a cast bronze sculpture. They both depict two birds sitting on top of a pile of various words and symbols from the pandemic. She incorporated the theme of “Alone Together” by having the two birds together standing on top of words like online classes, essential workers, and quarantine.

She talked about how she usually doesn’t work with themes while creating art but rather lets the art tell a theme. Sometimes she incorporates themes without even knowing it. She pointed out how the birds in the artwork were twisted and bent from all the pandemic had done but despite it all were holding their heads up. This can represent the hope many people still had despite being locked inside. Wenig-Horswell also finds inspiration from the nature she experiences at her home in Elkhart.

Manchester University Gallery G is located in the Jo Young Switzer Center, on the North Manchester Campus. It is provided by a donor and admission is free. While the pieces in the gallery are available for purchase, Gallery G takes no commission. It is not a commercial gallery, but rather an educational space to expose artists to our campus and community.

Rohrer is looking for an additional student to be a gallery assistant to help her set up, take down and manage exhibits. The gallery hours are M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 12–3 p.m., when classes are in session.

Now that the “Alone Together: Visual Stories From a Pandemic” has been removed, the gallery will be empty for the next two weeks to set up a new exhibit. Rohrer stated that the new exhibit will be the return of the Manchester Alumni Series, featuring Ejenobo Oke BA ’97. It will be part of the Homecoming celebrations.