Dairy Arts Center

Presentiment: Virtual Exhibition


March 4-April, 9, 2022

Featuring works by Emily McIlroy, Paula Gasparini-Santos, Sarah Darlene Palmeri, and Alli Lemon

The galleries are free and open to the public Monday-Sunday, from 2pm-6pm. Docent tours are available Thursday beginning at 5pm in the lobby, or by special arrangement.

Presentiment showcases the work of four artists all separately and collectively using their practice as a means to process the internal turmoil that teems within the human experience. A balance of intuition, connection to personal emotional terrain, and the desire to traverse an unknown landscape permeates the work on view throughout the exhibition. From large-scale explorations of grief that manifest in gorgeous Wildernesses to small-scale interactions between pattern and material, all artists on view tap into their inner selves as a way to create a connection to the outer. 

The works on view create a dialogue with the viewer as well: luring them in with lush color palettes, rich text, and raw material, while simultaneously engaging and reciprocating the energy that radiates from the human body, allowing the work to almost vibrate in relation to the viewer. The imbued spirit of the artist sings through the works as the viewer can see evidence of fighting through deep thought processes and arriving at a visual conclusion, or perhaps another question. The images and objects presented invite you to sit longer, to engage further within yourself, and to leave the gallery with a hopeful lift of spirit. 

Opening Night

Images Courtesy of Elliot Whitehead

Emily McIlroy
The Lilies How They Grow

I use the practice of drawing and painting as a means of connecting the grace, power, violence, and delicacy found in nature with internal landscapes of thoughts, memories, and emotions. Since the sudden deaths of my twin brother, mother, and father, I have come to see our own inner worlds as “wildernesses”—spaces that harbor great dangers, as well as potential for incredible wonder and discovery. 

The Lilies How They Grow is an attempt to navigate the forces and features of this territory. It is an attempt to understand and accept an existence that is at once breathtakingly beautiful, unendurably painful, infinitely fragile, and prodigiously resilient. Created as prayers for passage out of all that holds us back, these pieces look towards hope and faith in the capacity to love, and for the possibility of a life aligned with presence, openness, and joy.

The title of the series comes from a dream I had a month after the death of my twin. As I was walking along the edge of a cliff at night I slipped, and while falling, saw two small daylilies appear. I grabbed onto them and pulled myself back up and out of the blackness. Now, whenever traction becomes weak, when I don’t remember who I am, I consider the lilies. I search for the handholds in the dark. I take the seeds of those life-sustaining flowers and try to grow them, not in little pairs, but in full, feracious fields.

Emily McIlroy was born and raised in Norman, Oklahoma. She received her BA in Studio Art from the University of Arizona in 2005 and her MFA in Drawing and Painting from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in 2011. When she’s not in her studio, Emily enjoys reading, writing, walking, and swimming her way through various terrestrial and aquatic wildernesses. She currently teaches drawing and painting at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

Artist Talk with Emily McIlroy and Drew Austin

Where is "home"?

Home, to me, is a feeling more than a place. I’m at home in the water. I’m at home in wilderness. I’m at home in the studio. I’m at home with my cat, Gormaen. I’m at home in the presence of love.

What’s your astrological sign, does that matter to you?

Aquarius, and yes! I find astrology to be a fun and engaging tool for organizing and interpreting observations and experiences. I don’t make major life decisions based solely on astrology, but I do find it to be an informative and affirming supplement to other systems of knowledge.

Do you have any pieces of media that have been particularly influential on you?

Too many to list! Recent notes and inspirations come from the following:


On Being with Krista Tippett (podcast)

Being Alive (collection of essays by Timothy Ingold)

White Noise by Don DeLillo (novel)

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko (novel)

Fools Crow by James Welch (novel)

Make Prayers to the Raven by Richard Nelson (book)

The Heart of Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault (book)

Poetics of the Flesh by Mayra Rivera (book)

Internal Family Systems (psychotherapy model)

Who are your favorite creatives?

To name just a few…

Adrian Ghenie (painter)

Kiki Smith (visual artist)

Don DeLillo (author)

Gabriel García Márquez (author)

Rainer Maria Rilke (poet)

Marie Howe (poet)

What is a habit that you have developed in the studio? Why?

I sweep my studio floors before and after every painting session. The task serves as a kind of “parenthetical” practice for me. It symbolically opens up the creative space and clears away any mental interference or debris before moving into the ethers, and then similarly cleanses and closes this space so I can transition back into the material world.

What's your favorite tool?


Paula Gasparini-Santos
Forgiving Myself

When asked to showcase artwork regarding how art making becomes a means to process the internal turmoil that teems within the human experience, an image came to me; craving to be formed. This image told a story about my life’s trajectory and most importantly it invited me into a deep forgiveness of myself. A giant 18ft canvas carries the narrative of a time I needed a lot of support getting through the struggles that life confronted me with. 

A young faceless woman, holds her inner child, tied by rope, lifted by birds. This young woman nurtured her own wounds, but wasn’t strong enough in her identity, was only budding in her self-worth, was shielding herself from the world, and needed lifting to grow. Seeds started to be planted along the path and suddenly this woman is then seen on the opposite end of the canvas. Here, she is confident, open, and alive. She is surrounded by lilies, in a wave of tears that came from her past, but it all turned into nourishment. The birds that once had to pick her up, the messengers of truth, now are born within her heart and her voice and move out of her into the world to help lift others. They fly out of her, and she lays there open to relationships, open to the world, grounded and fully embracing her identity. She offers a peace lily back to her younger self, letting her know that she forgives the ways she had to cope, letting her know that she not only forgives those who wounded her, but deeply forgives herself. Across this loose canvas is a painting holding the identity that this younger self had to embrace for survival: Caretaker. This word is half blocked out, indicating there is still a letting go in progress around this role in life. Strings tie down the birds, wounding them, restricting their flight. A body curls up behind the ropes trying to be set free—eager to reclaim her true identity and to let go of that which was necessary to form in response to trauma. Birds fly off the canvas, words enter the canvas. The story is told, the invitation to the audience to consider what they need to practice letting go of. It invites the viewer into reclaiming self. This work is a forgiveness letter.

Paula Gasparini-Santos is an immigrant artist born in Vitória, Brazil that has lived her life between many cities and  countries. Paula has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and art, and a master’s degree in clinical  mental health and in art therapy. Paula’s art is the marriage between creativity, poetry, and  psychological research. Paula uses art as a tool for social justice, personal development, and  community building. As an art therapist, Paula works with different populations with the same  goal to utilize art as a tool for liberation. Paula has worked with previously incarcerated men,  using art as a tool to re-integrate into society. Her work with undocumented Latina women created a sense of home in a foreign culture. No matter what population, Paula sees art as way to  bring together communities despite race, social economic status, or culture. Most passionately,  she uses creative platforms as a dialogue for personal activism. In her paintings she incorporates  words blending into colorful backgrounds with universal messages about humanity,  relationships, self-awareness, justice, collective consciousness, or deeply personal reflections  about life and love. Paula believes art is a tool for dialogue and it is in the dialogue that the art is  formed.  

Clinically trained as an art therapist, she knows art is a tool used for human development and  social change. On canvas, poetry and images meet to tell stories and express common emotions  of the human existence. Paula’s hope is that her art invites us to look deeper, to ask questions,  and to find comfort with the relatedness of the experience of life. Bright colors come together to  create visually tempting and satisfying palettes that stand out on walls and draw in attention, and  the words ask you to pay attention to your own experience and resonance with the work. If she  wants her creativity to achieve anything, is to invite you into curiosity—to become avidly  curious about the workings of life, both internal and external.


Poetry Workshop, March 25th

In connection with her exhibition “Forgiving Myself” currently on view, artist Paula Gasparini-Santos will lead participants through an introduction to subconscious poetry creation. With guidance, Gasparini-Santos will help participants create words for healing and a deepened understanding of self.


Sponsored in part by Boulder Book Store

Where is "home"?

Immediately when asked this, I say to myself home is Brazil. But it isn’t necessarily the tangible place I grew up in, it’s more the culture, the norms, the way of seeing life that my home country gave to me. So maybe, home is the way I live inside myself, home is in me.

What’s your astrological sign, does that matter to you?

I am a Cancer, and yes I love astrology. Not that I abide by it religiously but I like it as a guiding resource, especially as a way to honor and love the parts of myself that are more difficult.

Do you have any pieces of media that have been particularly influential on you?

Yes, many books. At the top of my list is “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Marie Rilke, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

Who are your favorite creatives?

I would say Frida Kahlo in the regard to how her entire life was creative, her surroundings, her journaling, her self reflection. She embodied art, and she used art to aid in her suffering both relational and physical.

What is a habit that you have developed in the studio? Why?

To make playlists with music that makes me feel a certain way, it’s brought me into a flow state with my work. The louder the volume, the quieter my mind is.

What's your favorite tool?

Using the whole container of paint directly onto the canvas to paint large backgrounds.

Sarah Darlene Palmeri
The Feeling Body

The Feeling Body is a series of fiber works that investigate regrounding in the body through meditation and abstraction. Recycled clothes, bedsheets, and other domestic fabrics are intuitively transformed into compositions that explore the ways in which physical, emotional and spiritual health are intimately intertwined. Influenced by abstract expressionism, this body of work serves as an expressive tool to heal from the ways in which I’ve experienced systems-based harm, while also disrupting the ways in which I participate in those systems. The foundational concept to my work is best summed up by writer Monica Cadena who reflects, “Collective liberation begins with our personal practice.”

Visual artist Sarah Darlene Palmeri explores the functionality of abstraction through a feminine, queer, and contemporary perspective. Her work investigates the intersections of painting, social practice, and meditation and their collective ability to promote self-reflection, cathartic healing, and true social change. Palmeri holds a BFA in Painting and Drawing from Louisiana State University, and an Executive Certificate of Nonprofit Management from the University of Notre Dame. She has been a member of Strangers Art Collective since 2015 and is a current Artist in Residence at RedLine Contemporary Art Center in Denver. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and Iceland.

Where is "home"?

Home is the body, or in other words, the body is the boundary condition in which the soul is housed. Dropping into the breath, into the senses and sensations in the body, whether comfortable or not, is a way to always come back home.

What’s your astrological sign, does that matter to you?

I am an Aries Sun, Taurus Rising, and Cancer Moon – and these identifiers are so important to me. Understanding my birth chart has helped me learn my own truth, understand my location in physical space, and appreciate why I am here in this body, in this specific moment in time. My Sun in Aries is also located in the 12th house, which is the explores self-undoing, the collective unconscious, hidden life, and the infinite well of creativity that is available when we work on healing our deepest wounds. My personal astrology has provided a solid ground for my creative practice and affirms for me that I was born to create the work I’m making now.

Do you have any pieces of media that have been particularly influential on you?

So many books! I love to read and here are some of my favorites:

You Were Born for This by Chani Nicholas

Radical Dharma by Rev. Angel Kyoto Williams

Sustaining Spirit by Naomi Ortiz

Love and Rage by Lama Rod Owens

Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown

The Alphabet vs. The Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image by Leonard Shlain

Death, The Final State of Growth by Elizabeth Kübler Ross

Who are your favorite creatives?

The current cohort of artists at RedLine [where Sarah is a resident artist] are some of the most inspiring creatives I’ve ever met and I feel so lucky to share space with them right now. The way Rochelle Johnson’s paintings examine identity through abstracting the figure has influenced how I think about and compose my own work. Laura Ann Samuelson (who also shares a Sun in the 12th house) uses their own body in powerful, experimental performance work that follows the transmission of feeling across objects, sites, and bodies. Victor Escobedo’s practice deeply resonates with my own and beautifully explores transformation through mythology, intuition and Shamanistic practices in wide variety of mediums including masks, puppetry, installation, painting and performance. It has been really humbling and inspiring to watch all of these artists explore the body in a different way, from a different location, and with a different history and life experience.

What is a habit that you have developed in the studio? Why?

I like to think about developing habits as more of a practice around creating personal rituals. One of the most important rituals I’ve formed in my studio is just taking the time to fully arrive. It takes me about half an hour to welcome my body and my Self into my space – I heat up water for tea, light some incense or a candle, get acquainted with the sounds that echo throughout the studio, sometimes pull a few Tarot cards, then just sit and look at what’s around me. I have to fully land in my body to see where to direct my energy each day. Setting up my space and finding some stillness is how I can hear the sensations and guidance from my own Feeling Body. That little bit of structure provides what feels like an infinite amount of spaciousness and freedom to do whatever I need each time I come in to work.

What's your favorite tool?

I’ve only recently discovered that I have a bit of an obsession with needles! The sewing and stitching process that permeates my current creative work mirrors how I use needles as a form of healing and divination outside of my practice. I think watching my mother give herself injections and undergo different surgeries for Multiple Sclerosis treatment throughout my childhood was part of how I got here. As I grew older and learned more holistic ways of healing outside of western medicine, acupuncture was one of the first tools I integrated into my wellness routine. I’ve been going to Unity Community Acupuncture in Denver weekly for almost 6 years because it is a practice that uses needles to rebalance the flow of energy or life force throughout the body. I think my sewing practice does the same on a spiritual level. Working through different chronic conditions through acupuncture, including complex PTSD and fibromyalgia, I realized I was unconsciously parrelleling my physical healing with my creative work for several years. It wasn’t until getting my first tattoo in February of this year from morgynne tora of blood math ritual tattoo that I realized how much needles have been a part of my healing, both in and out of the studio.

Alli Lemon
A Part, Apart

When asked if “A Part, Apart” is one piece or many, the answer is always “both.” They are simultaneously a part of the installation and a piece that can be shown apart from it. Over time, I make and find things that aren’t initially intended to go together, but through time and patience, find their ways to each other through my hand. In this way, I often feel more like the collector and keeper of this collection than the creator of it.

When making the individual objects, I have a vague idea of my intentions, but I’ve often described the process as “treasure hunting in my mind.” Much like the experience of shopping at a secondhand store, when you find something exciting, you choose to buy it now or it’s likely to be gone. So these objects hold a special energy. It’s the same with making, if I don’t get it out, get it made, right then, I’ll lose it. 

The aesthetics of my work reflect the things I gravitate toward at the thrift store—gold, wood, ceramics—and growing up in my mother’s fabric store. I often find myself riffling through the remnant sections of fabric stores or picking up a tiny vase at Goodwill and bringing these finds to the studio. I buy these treasures unsure of what they’ll become and let them sit in my studio until they reveal their purpose. I guild thrifted objects with made objects and make objects with found objects. There isn’t a hierarchy of materials, everything becomes subject to everything else. This collapses a sense of time in my work. There are things freshly made combined with things of unknown age and origin. Even my own work gets collaged into itself. 

Through this practice, I am realizing the visuals of my mind’s eye. Clearly, I prioritize certain visuals and in this, I’m able to understand more about myself. By putting these objects together, I am making a mind map. It’s hard for me to describe the connections verbally and instead, I refer you to the map of “A Part, Apart.”

Alli Lemon is a Memphis-born, Colorado-based artist. She received her BFA from the University of Memphis and, in 2015, she was a fellow at the Yale Summer School at Norfolk. She is currently finishing an MFA at the University of Colorado, Boulder, with an emphasis on painting and drawing. An immersion in the worlds of ceramics and the philosophy of science, disciplines for which CU is highly regarded, shifted her interests greatly. Leaving behind the 2-dimensional, her work weaves together drawings with found objects, fibers, and ceramics to create the artifacts for a “cult of one” she calls Cosmostology. Lemon says Cosmostology is a method of connecting the disparate parts of oneself and reconciling conflicting understandings of the self and the universe. Collage—of both images, objects, and philosophies—is a natural method for this practice because collage is a space where we are quick to accept dichotomies and juxtapositions, which are at the heart of each individual and the universe at large.

Where is "home"?

Memphis, TN

What’s your astrological sign, does that matter to you?

Capricorn. I really enjoy when other people are super into/knowledgeable about their signs, because it’s an easy way to know what they see as “high-priority” about their personality. For me, there are things about Capricorn that I identify with, but it’s not something I think about often.

Do you have any pieces of media that have been particularly influential on you?

I’m such a TV person in the studio and love how it’s really come into its own as an artform in the last decade; The OA and The Good Place are incredibly influential. My favorite movie is Interstellar and it’s never far from my mind. I saw the Hilma af Klint retrospective when it was at the Guggenheim and it genuinely haunts me. Right now, I’m reading this book called Until the End of Time by Brian Greene, that’s been incredible… he was also quoted in one of my favorite books But What If We’re Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman. When I’m hiking, I love listening to Rebecca Solnit’s work. I could talk about my influences all day.

Who are your favorite creatives?

To my already-lengthy list above, I’d definitely add that Dustin O’Halloran and Kiefer are the constant soundtracks to my daily walks, great “thinking music.” I also admire a lot of curators and see that as an art itself.

What is a habit that you have developed in the studio? Why?

For better or worse, I don’t have a lot of habits in the studio. Most days, I go in and do what I’m most excited about doing. Somedays that’s drawing, sometimes is upholstering a lamp with faux-fur. I relish in the fact that I’m an adult who gets to play every day.

What's your favorite tool?

I’ve learned to really love digital collage and digital mock-ups. It saves me time and resources and I’m able to get out so many versions of an idea quickly.

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MARCH 2020

As of today, 3/12/2020, The Dairy Arts Center remains open and operational. Should scheduling changes occur, ticket holders will be directly notified by The Dairy Arts Center.

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