Tandem Hearts: The Photographic Expressions of a Mother and Daughter

January 8 - March 11, 2008

It's hard to say if one's interests and pursuits of the aesthetic things in life is an inherent trait or learned behavior, but for Katherine Barr and Julie Lerczak it seems to be a little of both. "For as long as I can remember I think both Kate and I have had strong creative impulses", says Julie. "As a child I seemed to thrill at something as simple as a jumbo box of Crayola Crayons. Perhaps it was the smell of the wax and the rainbow of colors that excited me. I remember memorizing the colors and spending many hours coloring, drawing, and craving creative projects. It was the same for Katie. As a little girl she would crawl up in my lap and ask me to read her the names on crayons and explain things like 'cerulean,' 'sepia,' or 'burnt umber.' Whenever I was creating something, she wanted to be part of it. We seemed to go through a lot of coloring books, crayons, chalk, paints, and paper at our house. I've saved a lot of what she made, to always remember how she grew in expressing herself, from her first attempts at writing letters, to short stories and drawings of things she dreamed. To watch how your child evolves in the way they create and express themselves is like watching a seed unfold to become a beautiful flower."

"We come from a family of creative souls. One grandma painted china and did oil paintings on canvas. She had also been an art instructor for a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The other grandmother hooked rugs and quilted. Both were skilled at sewing and crafting things from essentially nothing. My mother was talented too. She made wonderful sketches, sewed and did needlework, and her handwriting is beautiful still. It was her handwriting in particular that made me want to study calligraphy. Dad was creative in other ways. He was always building us things... rocking horse swings, and towers to climb. I suppose some of that gets passed on to us without our really knowing it and then one day unexpectedly you see you've fostered something similar in your own child."

"Sharing a love for art with your child can come back later in life as one of the sweetest blessings. Our hearts continue to grow together as we celebrate the things we love. Exploring those things is great fun. When our paths diverge it is interesting to see where our choices have led us. Kate is uninhibited by technology and quick to read about something, then teach herself a technique. I, on the other hand, like to learn by watching others, then get my feet wet and experiment a little. Eventually, when our paths converge again, we talk about what we've learned, see exhibits together, and teach one another."

Katie Barr

"One of my favorite photographers is Ansel Adams, "says Kate. "Black and white photography is one of my favorite mediums. I am primarily inspired by nature and the people around me. I also like to research and experiment with alternative photographic techniques that are no longer used very much, especially hand developing images. It can be complicated, but when you finally see the end product of your work develop before your eyes, it can be pretty amazing and entertaining. I think that I am drawn to photography because anything can be your subject and the world is your canvas. Everything is just waiting for you to see it at a different angle." Kate has taken photography classes at both Spoon River College and Western Illinois University. In 2006 she obtained her Associates degree in Applied Science (AAS) from Spoon River College with an emphasis in graphic and studio arts. Kate worked as the graphic arts designer for the SRC production of Red Herring in 2006. She has also taken a sculpting class with Preston Jackson at the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria, Illinois. She is currently a student at Western Illinois University, where she is majoring in Pre-Med/Pre-Physical Therapy. She is employed part-time at McDonough District Hospital in Macomb.

Kate enjoys gardening, traveling, experiencing new cultures, cooking, and being with family and friends. Her photographs and poems have been published in the Spoon River College magazine, "The Kaleidoscope." Her works have been exhibited at Spoon River College, the Fulton County Arts Council, Fulton County Town and Country Art Show, Mason County Arts Councilís Wildlife Photography Show, the 18th District Congressional Art Show and at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth Illinois.

Julie Lerczak

"I'm a dabbler. I like experimenting with a variety of mediums to see where they lead me. I've tried my hand at weaving, various fiber-arts, jewelry-making, calligraphy, photography, watercolor painting, stained glass work, and an endless array of crafts. There isn't a favorite thing that I like to do, nor do I want to limit myself to just one thing. A year ago I bought a digital camera, and now, I'm enjoying seeing what can be done with that. In particular I'm having fun with computer manipulations of digital images. I've been fortunate to have had opportunities to create with many people, of all ages, in a variety of ways: crafting items with girl and boy scouts; planning exhibits for museums and arts councils; leading field trips to the Art Institute; stamping crafts with teachers, and teaching an inter-generational arts course to preschoolers partnered with nursing home residents. No matter how you choose to express yourself, what medium you're drawn to, or whether you create alone or with others, it's all good - it's all growth and discovery."

Julie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Art from Illinois State University, where she majored in printmaking and drawing and minored in Anthropology. She has completed graduate course work in calligraphy at the University of Iowa, and is on the Board of the Fulton County Arts Council. Her twenty-five year employment history has included working as educator at various museums; historic site interpreter; librarian assistant; archaeological technician; and microfilm editor. She currently enjoys substitute teaching in Fulton County elementary schools and has developed "Whisk Away Bakery" a home-based bakery business.


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