PXP VII with artists DK

Piece by Piece VII

  • Jun 15 — Aug 4, 2024

Piece by Piece VII

In the gallery through August 8, 2024

Piece by Piece is a collaborative project that brings together an average of 150 local artists. Their combined efforts result in a massive interpretation of a classic work of art. Every other year, the curatorial committee at the center debates extensively to choose either an iconic work of art or an iconic artist whose painting, when divided into 120 to 150 sections, creates visual interest. This ensures participants aren't left with a square of a single color. Finding a work that meets these criteria can be challenging.

Once the work is decided, a large high-quality poster is purchased and then divided into 140 to 150 pieces. These pieces are generally three inches square. These sections of the poster are numbered, laminated, and then put into sealed envelopes.

The committee then invites all previous artists to participate again. If some are unable or choose not to participate, a lottery is held for new participants on the waiting list. Once all artists are confirmed, we host a reception where each artist randomly selects an envelope from the pile. They are then given a 15-inch square panel, primed, with two holes drilled in the top for hanging.

Artists are asked not to open their envelopes until they get home. If they think they recognize the artist or the final painting, we ask them not to reveal it on social media or discuss it to preserve the surprise of the installation. The only restrictions are that they honor the color palette, do not cover the two holes, and do not extend beyond the edges of the panel. All mediums and interpretations are accepted and encouraged.

Not knowing the final work, each participant has about three months to interpret their square on a panel. When the panels are delivered to the center, we photograph each one and digitally arrange them to produce a commemorative poster of the final installation. These posters are available at the opening reception. We also feature each artist’s individual work on a large monitor in a video loop.

To prepare the wall for the installation, we install long strips of strapping with sturdy nails meticulously pre-inserted.

Finally, at a grand celebration/installation, the giant work is assembled piece by piece using a scissor lift. The installation itself takes about an hour and a half and feels like performance art. There is a palpable energy in the room as the image appears, and artists see their work hung alongside others. The 2024 Piece by Piece exhibition is the seventh collaborative work, six of which have been displayed on the large wall of the center’s lower gallery. (Piece by Piece five was a digital project during Covid).

There are few opportunities for more than 100 local artists to work together to create something so magical and beautiful. This project perfectly fits the mission of the organization, which is to be a welcoming home for all. If you are interested in having your name added to the waiting list, please let us know by sending an email to info@cotuitcenterforthearts.org with the subject line "I would like to join the waiting list for Piece by Piece."

In the off years, our collaborative project is also unique and exciting: Mutual Muses, where visual artists and poets submit original work and create new work in response to each other’s random poem or work of visual art. We are proud of these annual large scale collaborations.