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

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

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.

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.

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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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