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Artists question Constitution

In honor of Constitution Day, USF is providing students a different way to explore our nation’s independence – through the creative mind.

Centre Gallery, a student-operated art gallery in the Marshall Center, is showing the exhibition Your Bill … Our Rights: An Artistic Interpretation of the Bill of Rights, which features the work of two student artists, Melanie Monahan and Shannon

Richie-Lindsey. Inspired by the Bill of Rights, the artists aim to rouse awareness in personal freedoms and constitutional rights through art, in addition to promoting the importance of being an active voter.

Shannon Richie-Lindsey

“My goal as an artist (in this show) is to begin a visual discussion about our rights as people. I want viewers to be more aware of, and

understand, the Bill of Rights, to develop their own ideas and definitions of the rights we all hold within ourselves,” according to Richie-Lindsey’s artist statement.

The pieces displayed in Your Bill … Our Rights portray Richie-Lindsey’s sense of self-awareness as a United States citizen.

They contain a fabulous melody of color and abstract design to portray the themes of feminism, alcoholism and many other social challenges in the world.

“Because of the First Amendment, I can express my ideas about women depicting an image that people may not agree with … I perceive women to be very powerful within their capabilities as creative beings,” said Richie-Lindsey.

Viewers will be captivated by the artist’s emotive paintings, which speak clearly to an open mind. Richie-Lindsey does wonders in manipulating the senses with shadows and lighting rather than with self-explanatory images.

“I create art for very specific reasons. Just as a viewer recalls a conversation, he/she will recognize an image he/she has seen before,” she said. Visitors will leave the gallery with a new perspective on individual rights.

Melanie Monahan

After experiencing artist’s block for 25 years, Monahan has again found inspiration. Since returning to USF earlier this year, she has been aggressively pursuing her rekindled passion in art, this time with a new approach.

“My work has taken a more socio-political turn and I find I am more interested in teaching or invoking curiosity through sarcasm, humor and hope. The show, Your Bill … Our Rights, is a perfect format to encourage and provoke thought in a subject often forgotten or evaded,” said Monahan, who is refocusing her life on issues she finds important in society, such as educating the public about the necessity of voting.

“I hope to encourage viewers in their responsibility to vote by seeing it as a glimmer of hope for a better future,” said Monahan. “Our forefathers gave us one important way to change things that we don’t like … do it …VOTE.”

In this challenging time of war and complicated politics, Monahan hopes that others will similarly assess her point of view and make their votes count. This enthusiasm for America freedoms and rights is clearly illustrated in the pieces painted by Monahan, who avoids censorship of the arts and brazenly uses powerful images to make her voice unmistakable. Through a mixture of different media, Monahan’s work immediately catches the viewer’s eye and forces him or her to look deeper into each piece’s vivid meaning.

Your Bill … Our Rights is a compelling and informative exhibit for those with either an eye for the arts or a taste for American History. Voter registration information will be available in the gallery so students can register to vote while enjoying the art. In addition, scrolls of the Bill of Rights will be available for each visitor.

A reception for Your Bill … Our Rights will take place at Centre Gallery tonight from 7 to 9. The artists will be in attendance, as well as models dressed in colonial-inspired costumes. Refreshments will be served.