When local artist and art teacher Georgia Henkel was asked to curate an exhibit for the Lexington Art League, she immediately thought of specific artists.
"I thought of the artists before I thought of the theme," Henkel says. "I didn't want to make it too pretentious or too limiting."
The exhibit, Currents: Horror Amour, is the Art League's second Currents exhibit. The show asks a local artist to curate an exhibit of other local artists, and the first outing was a Fall 2013 show by Louis Zoellar Bickett.
"This is just an opportunity for us to exhibit local artists," says Elias Gross, spokesperson for the Art League.
The exhibit plays on the terms "Horror Vacui" and "Amor Vacui," which are the fear and love of emptiness. For this exhibit, artists were to base their work on these two extremes without straying towards the middle.
"I wanted to challenge them to do the opposite of what they do, or get them to think about why they do what they do," Henkel says.
She chose to pick a vague title to allow artists to do what they wanted.
Henkel really did not want to put a lot of text with the works, but as every single piece developed, she realized that the text is as important as the work.
"You have to read the narrative to have a full appreciation of each work," Henkel says. "The narrative tells you what it all means."
Some pieces are more obvious in expressing the theme than others, but with all the works, the narratives give the viewer a window into the artist's mind.
Some of the pieces in the exhibit feature interactive art. Some have a digital component, like the QR code mosaic, where you need to use your phone. Another piece, which is reminiscent of a Rube Goldberg machine, invites viewers to make their own art.
"I am in love with all of them. I am so pleased with how the show turned out," Henkel says. "I was personally invested in everyone that participated."
The show is Henkel's first work as a curator, but as an artist she has worked with Lexington Art League in the past. Gross says, "She has an amazing vision for everything that she does."
Henkel enjoyed working as a curator.
"It was really interesting because I've never been on this side of the table," she says.
She says that she was able to have more empathy working with the artists than curators who have never been in the artist's position.
"It made me more critical of my own work," Henkel says.
The biggest challenge Henkel had to deal with was finding spaces for the works. She met with each artist individually about where their work might fit.
"You almost have to make it site specific because it's not like there are big blank walls," she says.
The exhibit is in the Art League's home base of the Loudoun House, which is not your typical gallery. Some of the rooms are quite small. There are fireplaces, windows and electric outlets to work around while arranging the art. Walking around the space, it is obvious that the original intention for the space was not for it to be an art gallery.
Henkel says that everyone really did rally, though, and come up with a great solution for the space issue. "We knew where everything was going to go before it got there," she says.
The whole experience deepened Henkel's appreciation for the curator-artist relationship.
"As a curator, someone is giving you their heart and soul, and you have to deal with it," Henkel says. "It was a bittersweet reminder of how my work is dealt with."
Currents: Horror Amour will be on display until May 10.