Animalia Artist Reception

  • November 13, 2015
  • 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • McLean County Arts Center 601 N East St Bloomington IL 61701


Carlene Dingman Atwater, Kara Kirchner, CJ Niehaus

November 6 - 27, 2015

Artist Reception: Friday, November 13, 6 – 9 pm

during Holiday Treasures Opening Gala 

To purchase tickets click here

The McLean County Arts Center presents the art exhibition Animalia in the Armstrong Gallery from November 6 to 28, 2015. The exhibition will be free and open to the public for Downtown Bloomington’s First Friday November 6, 5 to 7 pm. Animalia’s Artists Reception with Carlene Dingman Atwater, Kara Kirchner, & CJ Niehaus will be held during MCAC’s annual Holiday Treasures Gala Opening on Friday, November 13 from 6 to 9 pm. Tickets for the gala are available for $50 at the McLean County Arts Center or online at

Animalia brings together the work of three artists who find inspiration in the animal kingdom. To tame the wildness of animals is the human inclination to anthropomorphize. We are fascinated yet fearful of their nature and attempt to bring them closer, make them more like us. Through the arts, we imagine capturing their spirit - make what is foreign in them familiar while making ourselves a little more feral.

Carlene Dingman Atwater’s oil paintings of animals are intimate portraits of Midwestern farm stock and garden inhabitants. Made of layered gestural brushstrokes, the animals are soft and friendly, pastoral- but their gaze is knowing, wild, and inquisitive. Atwater creates a tension of assessment between the animal and the human- a question of who is watching who. Kara Kirchner is a needle felting artist creating sculptural animals with wire armatures and layers of colored wool. Hedgehogs, foxes, and meerkats come alive with personality. Like characters in a storybook, each could be given a name, voice and disposition. CJ Niehaus makes functional ceramics with intricate drawings of animals, insects, and their habitats. Her black line drawings meld with color fields of glaze creating a sense of place where ladybugs live with tricycles and frogs live with sewing needles. The bowls, plates, and cups that they inhabit bring them even closer to us as they offer nourishment and narrative.

Carlene Dingman Atwater of  Fort Madison, Iowa paints everything and every day- her blog,,  is an archive of her studio process and finished paintings including oils, watercolors, and drawings of landscape, portraiture, and animals. A Sugar Creek Arts Festival artist, Atwater exhibits at galleries and arts fairs through the Midwest. Kara Kirchner of Bloomington exhibits her needle felted wool sculptures in the central Illinois region and has taught several workshops at Heartland Community College and The Discovery Children’s Museum of Normal. CJ Niehaus of Crystal Lake, Illinois exhibits her ceramic work nationally and teaches at McHenry and Elgin Community Colleges. She earned her MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

This exhibition was generously sponsored by Ron Bacon & Dee Bohbrink, Orbi Son Duquenne, Angel, Buddy, & Penny Dolan, Kami, Bentley, & Bimmer Kalish, Cozy & Angus Stivers, and Penny & Buddy Wozniak

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