By Staci Soslowitz
Art comes in many forms. Whether it’s a painting, a knitted scarf or simply a photograph, each creative piece has a creator behind it. These artists may not always be professional painters or photographers, they may be dermatologists or teachers who seek a creative platform simply for pleasure. But art as a hobby does not always come with the same recognition. That was until programs like CNY Arts On My Own Time (OMOT) came to be.
The OMOT program hosts several contests as a means for acknowledging artists within their places of business. Colleagues select participants and winners, while the finalists go on to display their work at the Everson Museum of Art. Now in its 46th year, OMOT has 15 companies and organizations participating. The grand finale exhibit will be held at the Everson Museum of Art from the beginning of October through early November.
Artists from many different career backgrounds have been selected to display their work, which to them, is an honor. The exhibition connects Central New York businesses and promotes the benefits of the creative process within the workplace.
Donna Britton, the director of human resources at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists, decided to show her quilting abilities in a company art show. Now, her quilts will be shown for all to see at the Everson.
“To have my quilt hanging in the Everson is beyond words,” Britton said. “I think it is taking my level of skill and expression to the next level which makes me proud and excited.”
Britton got involved with OMOT when a colleague introduced it to the company. She sent out a company-wide email stating they were looking for artists to bring and exhibit work in the conference room one day. Britton, who showcases her quilts in local shows, decided to participate.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have it in our company art show,” she said. From there, she was chosen to have her quilt displayed in the OMOT exhibit.
Kelley Parker has been participating in the program since 2014 and had her photographs selected for the exhibit. Parker,
who works for Syracuse University, decided to get involved with OMOT to showcase her talent and enjoy her colleague’s talents as well.
“It allows you to enjoy the art, whether it’s photography, painting, or some other art form, of your colleagues,” she said.
When Parker first got involved, she had just started to show her photos publicly online, and the program granted her the opportunity to show her work in an exhibition setting. Being a finalist in the program is even more rewarding.
“It is such an honor to have my artwork chosen for the exhibit at the Everson and to be included in such a talented group of people,” said Parker.
Her photographs are unique in that she adds various textures and layers to make them stand out which makes the final product very different from the captured image.
“The textures I use give the subject depth and interest,” she said. “It is my wish that my images become a unique style of art.”
Another finalist in the exhibit is Madeline Bartley, who has participated in the program for the last two years. Bartley believes the program offers more than just the chance to display your work.
“For all participants, you really feel a great acknowledgment of the artistic talent in the professional community,” she said.
Bartley had displayed her work in other galleries but had a lot of encouragement from co-workers to get involved in the OMOT program.
“Deciding what to choose for OMOT submissions can be really exciting, because you are getting to discuss with your coworkers about their artist practices and recent projects they have been working on in their free time,” Bartley said. “It feels energizing.”
The inspiration for her artwork came from a recent trip to California. She enjoys illustrating imaginary landscapes, yet includes memories of places she has traveled. Using gifted pastel pencils, Bartley created vibrant drawings that stand out.
Lisa Kinne heard about OMOT from the human resource representative while interviewing for her current job. Many of her
co-workers have made it to the final exhibit before and encouraged her to get involved.
“I was very nervous to enter my work,” Kinne said. “I am so glad that I did even though I didn’t make it the first time. I was told even if you don’t make it in now, there is always next year.”
She continued to show her work in the company-wide exhibit and was chosen as a finalist this year.
Participating in the program, Kinne says, allows full-time employees an artistic escape and encourages artists to take the risk of showing their work in public. For Kinne, having her work shown in the Everson Museum offers her a feeling of accomplishment and success.
“It lets me be able to show my artwork, not just to my family and friends but to the community,” she said. “Maybe someone will see it and be inspired to start creating pieces too!”
The CNY Arts On My Own Time grand finale exhibit will be held at the Everson Museum of Art Oct. 12 through Nov. 17. For more information, visit OnMyOwnTime.org