The Carrack's Winter Community Show By Jessica Williams

Entering The Carrack last week, it would have been difficult for even the most experienced of gallery-goers to withhold amazement. An explosion of color from floor to ceiling, the one-room gallery displayed works of many styles and mediums ⎯ from sculpture to collage to photography ⎯ leaving not one nook or cranny uncovered. These pieces weren’t of a specific artist or curated exhibition, though: Each work was created by a different Durham artist.

Fragments, Allison Coleman

The Carrack's Winter Community Show, which lasted from Jan. 18 to Feb. 10, began with an open call for art submissions. Without an entry fee or jury process, the show made itself an accessible environment for local talent to showcase a piece of their work. This inclusivity is central to The Carrack's mission. Founded in June 2011 as a zero-commission, artist-centered gallery, the space has housed community shows biannually since its founding. While the Summer Community Show celebrates the anniversary of The Carrack's founding, the Winter Community Show rings in each new year of exhibitions, performances and workshops.

“It gives us the feeling of a jump start for the new year ⎯ doing something that has that much positive energy about it,” said Kerry Crocker, director of operations and fundraising event coordinator at The Carrack.

Untitled, Georgia Paige Welch

Although it was exciting for The Carrack’s team to host such a fun and inclusive show ⎯ especially during its jam-packed reception for Third Friday Durham last month ⎯ the exhibition is perhaps even more alluring to local artists.

“I've worked on the last five community shows ⎯ so for the last two and a half years,” Crocker said. “I think it was below a hundred people when I began, and now we're at 227.”

Nettie, Jo Nopper

With 175 local artists represented in the last Community Show in June, the Winter Community Show featured more than 50 additional artists. These 227 artists included people of all age groups and skill levels, although the quality of work submitted has been increasing over time.

“It feels like it truly represents the entire range of artists who are based in or around Durham,” said Laura Ritchie, co-founder and director of The Carrack. “For example, in this show, we have artists who show their work internationally … but we also have five- and six-year-olds who are a part of a class together at Carolina Friends School. All in a show together.”

Park, Cade Carlson

With such a variety of art forms and subject material, it would be difficult for any curator to determine how everything should go up on the walls, even without the Community Show’s time constraints. For each show, after the never-before-seen works get dropped off on a Sunday, Ritchie and The Carrack’s team have four days to hang everything before the Friday reception.

“We have so many artworks that you can't even see them all laid out on the floor before putting them on the wall ⎯ there's not even enough floor space. So I jokingly tell people it's like a big Tetris game,” Ritchie said.

Inside Out, Josephine McCrann

Reminiscent of an “I Spy” or “Where's Waldo?” book, the small gallery is transformed into a jigsaw puzzle of color and composition. While it only spans one room, the Community Show could entice a viewer to stay for hours to examine the amalgamation of art. It was hard to believe all of the entries could fit into the gallery.

“I think next time we're going to have to reduce our size maximums,” Crocker said. “This time we said four feet in any direction, and next time we'll have to reduce it so we can fit more on the wall.”

Flowered Chains, Kevin Peddicord

Although The Carrack may have to limit entries in the next few shows to avoid running out of gallery space, it is unlikely that this limitation will hinder the Community Show’s popularity. Whether to buy a piece of local art or to see a family member’s artwork on the wall, Durham community members frequent the gallery.

“It's busy throughout the duration of the show. During gallery hours, we see more foot traffic for this show than during any other time of the year,” Ritchie said.

A free exhibit featuring a huge array of local artists, The Carrack's Community Shows are an accessible way to explore the state of art in Durham ⎯ and to gain inspiration for one's own artwork.

M.W.I., Raj Bunnag

“People are just really excited to see their own work on the wall or their friends' work on the wall or ⎯ even if they don't know anyone in the show ⎯ to have an opportunity to imagine themselves displaying work here,” Ritchie said. “And we hope that the next time they bring us a piece.”

Title Image: Pretty with my yellow nails, Erica Danielle

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