Smile Politely

Ready… Set… Creat8!

Eight artists, eight pieces, eight hours to create: that’s the mantra for the live art event held annually every spring by the University of Illinois organization of the same name, 8 To Create.

Since its inception in 2014, the annual 8 To Create show features eight artists who are selected by members of the group. The artists come from a range of backgrounds from painting to drawing, to sculpture, to blendings in-between. Some come from out of state, and some are based right here in Urbana-Champaign. Each artist has something unique to bring to the table, and in this case, that table is set up for you to watch.

8 To Create is a live art show, in which the public is able to engage with the artists by watching them as they create. Viewers are also able to converse with the artists, actively stepping into the creative process by asking questions, discussing concepts, and interacting with the artists on a face-to-face level.

“The show gives people a chance to see what the creative process is really like,” explains Mariam Betadam, current president of 8 To Create. “It’s important because people don’t really always understand the process and what goes into it. It’s like the artist is solving a puzzle. And you get to see that first hand.”

8 To Create was founded in 2014 by then-graduate student, Julie Kierski, who came up with the idea after seeing similar live art events at other universities. Since then, the Illinois club has expanded to include a board of members who organize and manage the event.

“8 To Create brings a lot of understanding about art and involvement in the community,” explains Betadam. “It’s really educational, and it’s really fun!”

This year, the show will take place at the Colab space in downtown Urbana. The artists will set up their workstations along the Colab’s outdoor boardwalk, where guests are welcome to wander through and observe the creative process of each respective artist. This year’s lineup includes: Wesley Berg, who explores the evolution of our human connection with nature through his drawings; Kathryn Scarim, whose work layers colorful, free-flowing, geometric forms;  Jason Patterson, who is interested in interpreting past and culture through visual formats; Deanne Wortman, who combines foil-printing and drawing in assemblages of movement and delicacy; Dean Kugler, who creates figurative works bursting with emotional release; Benjamin Cook, who plays with the relationship between organic and digitally-rendered forms; Angelo Ray Martínez, who creates whimsical representations of culture in his mixed media works; and Shelby Shadwell, whose large-scale drawings explore the boundaries between abstraction and reality.

“It can really give you a sense of what art is, and by talking with the artists and everyone there, you can be a part of it,” says Betadam. “It’s a really great thing.” In a community brought together by art, there is truly a lot to gather through the connections we foster and the interactions we all create in the process. And 8 To Create gives people a place to be a part of that.

The upcoming show will take place on Saturday March 12th at colab in downtown Urbana, located at 206 W. Main St. The event will begin at 10am and have a closing reception at 6:30 p.m. open for questions and conversation.

For more details about the show, check out 8 To Create’s website and their event page on Facebook.

You can also help support the show by making a donation through GoFundMe. Proceeds go towards renting the venue, catering the reception, supplying materials, and compensating the artists who help make it all possible.  

Photos courtesy of the artists and the 8 to Create website. 

About Stephanie Lenchard Warren: 


Stephanie Lenchard Warren is an arts writer for Smile Politely. She is a visual artist and nonfiction writer, whose work explores finding ourselves in nature as well as the nature in ourselves.

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