Local Artist Kelly Parks Snider is presenting two exhibitions of art and commentary at River Arts Center Gallery, 105 9th St in Prairie du Sac, that opened Sept. 8 and runs through Dec. 7. The two exhibitions, which both pair art with activism, use the immediacy of art and compelling observations on current and historic events to present a fresh perspective on issues of urgency. There will be an opening reception on Sept. 24, 5:30-7:30 p.m. with art talk by Parks Snider at 6 p.m.

The Hidden in Plain Sight exhibition, which was unveiled publicly for the first time at the 2014 Fighting Bob Fest, pairs original artwork by Parks Snider with writings by respected activists on topics related to human rights, environmental justice, income inequality and the abuse of power. The artist’s observations on this compelling amalgam of social justice issues are expressed through art pieces created in a range of media including large-scale visual media and narratives, collage, and both wood and steel sculpture. The goal is to create a tension between the visual and written art that mirrors the face-off between opposing forces striving either to promote change, or prevent it. Contributing writers include Jacquelyn L. Boggess, Lisa Graves, Robert McChesney, John Nichols, David Pate, Matthew Rothschild, Martin Scanlan, Melissa K. Scanlan and Inger L. Stole.

According to artist Kelly Parks Snider, “Words and visuals come together here in surprising ways that I hope spark recognition and sometimes raise a smile,” the Madison-based artist says of the collaborative project. “I invite viewers to draw their own conclusions and walk away inspired to act.”

Kelly Parks Snider
Kelly Parks Snider

Young people are the key consumers, and targets, of popular media and its myriad consumer-based messages. The Commercial Land exhibition, which has toured extensively throughout Wisconsin and nationally, is aimed at building media literacy through art-based exploration and education, providing tools to better understand the motives of commercial media, and to respond to those influences in a healthy way. Themes explored in the exhibition include brand brainwashing, labeling, body image, media and culture, consumerism, body objectification, the beauty myth, respect, and activism.

“We share parents’ and educators’ concern that our daughters today are awash in potentially destructive, often violent and sexually-charged media communications that shape their understanding of how they are valued in today’s society,” said (high profile local attribution). “Commercial Land engages middle-school girls, and those who care about them, to explore this phenomenon, and empowers them to break down that flood of messages and devise their own.”

In addition to sculptures, paintings and collage by Kelly Parks Snider, the exhibition also includes work by artist Mary Dickey and student artists from Sauk City Middle School who have participated in companion Commercial Land art-based media literacy workshops sponsored by the River Arts Center.

There will also be a panel discussion on Thursday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m. at the River Arts Center Gallery, 105 9th St., Prairie du Sac, Wis.

Parks Snider is co-founder of Art in Action, Inc., a nonprofit organization that uses art to promote social change. The duo Hidden in Plain Site and Commercial Land exhibition at the River Arts Center Gallery is sponsored by the Brico Fund, Sauk County UW-Extension Arts & Culture, and the Wisconsin arts Board.

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