The Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center is opening a new exhibition by featured artist Allison Bowman of Mission.
Each piece of Bowman’s collection is part of her “Sacred Spaces” series. The exhibition includes a temporary mural, interactive installation piece and multiple pieces of her original artwork. Some of her canvas paintings are oil-based, others are acrylics, but all are “abstracted botanical environments,” as she described them.
“Each piece is in itself its own environment, and the purpose of them is to really provide a place of escape for people,” Bowman said. “I suffered from anxiety and depression my entire life, so painting is really the main thing that gets me through that. And so I just wanted to provide that to other people by creating these environments. It especially allows myself to kind of get lost and forget about what’s going on in the world, just have a space to go to and self reflect.”
The interactive installation piece was funded by a $500 ArtsKC Inspiration grant. Viewers can step into the three-dimensional artwork and be immersed in it, Bowman said.
Devin Graham, fine arts coordinator for the Johnson County Park and Recreation District, said Bowman’s work is “incredibly inspiring.”
“It’s all very botanical and surrounds the idea of going to ‘sacred spaces’ for your mental health,” Graham said. “It’s kind of transformed our entire space, which is really exciting.”
A native of Manhattan, Kansas, Bowman earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in painting from Kansas State University. Much of her early work is abstract, but she grew her love for botanical art and now fuses the two into her own unique pieces. Bowman also teaches art classes for the Johnson County Park and Recreation District.
“She knows how to transform a space; she is a really inspiring artist,” Graham said. “All of her work is around finding sanctity in a peaceful place. Looking at the colors that she uses and the style that she had, we felt that it would fit our building really well.”
Bowman said the natural environment surrounding her childhood in Manhattan, especially the Flint Hills, inspired her artwork. She was also inspired by her recent trip to the redwood forests of northern California.
“People usually lead pretty busy lives and it can get stressful,” Bowman said. “My hope is that when someone comes to my show that they kind of just take a moment to pause and really get lost in these pieces of art. I hope that it makes them feel something. I just want them to self reflect, look inside, just a mental checking to make sure you’re in a good place, taking breaks for yourself.”
Altogether, her work took about three years to piece together. She plans to expand on the collection in the future.
The exhibition debuts with an opening reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30 at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center. The reception will include live music by artist Joe Gray.
The exhibition is free and open to the public. Bowman’s artwork will be on display until Nov. 2.