Prairie Center Alumni Show 2019

The Prairie Center of the Arts in Peoria’s Warehouse District opened their gallery doors the evening of Saturday, August 10th for the annual Alumni Show’s Opening Reception. The show features the work of 72 artists who have gone through the artist residency program at the Prairie Center since its start in 2003.

Lettering Works was only months into business when I participated in the six-month residency program myself in the fall of 2016. My focus was to create artwork for and about Peoria and ended with a show featuring One City Six Ways, a series of six screen-printed posters featuring local businesses and attractions.

From Peoria to Chicago

Since I created postcards as my first Peoria-centric project, it seemed only natural to start with postcards in Chicago as well. These postcards serve as the foundation for building connections and showcasing my work in their respective communities. The Prairie Center fostered my desire to be proactive in business - and cultivated the creation of the work I wanted to see and make before I was specifically asked to create it by someone else. Looking back on my time in Peoria, my residency at the Prairie Center was one of the most pivotal experiences for developing my business. Participating in the annual Alumni Show always provides a unique challenge and motivates me to proactively keep creating my personal design work.

Jessica Bingham reads through the hand-written messages on each of the postcards.

Jessica Bingham reads through the hand-written messages on each of the postcards.

The Installation

Fellow Prairie Center alumnus Alexander Martin, whose work is to the left of this piece in the show, installed the Chicago Style Postcard series. The postcards were addressed and mailed directly to the Prairie Center to provide the full effect of a mailed postcard. The five selected designs were hung across a thin string with their corresponding postcard backs strung along below.

Chicago Style Postcards Installation

Chicago Style Postcards Installation

Chicago Style Postcards Installation Detail

Chicago Style Postcards Installation Detail

Notes to Peoria from Chicago

The back of each postcard contained a hand-written note from myself to a “friend” - Peoria has so many friends of mine. Being the hometown of Lettering Works, it felt natural to write “home” about the new adventures in Chicago and share some of the process of developing each of the designs and their significance.

Back of Chicago Style Hot Dog Postcard

Back of Chicago Style Hot Dog Postcard

Back of Hello from Chicago Postcard

Back of Hello from Chicago Postcard

Back of Chicago Skyline Postcard

Back of Chicago Skyline Postcard

Back of Chicago Flag Postcard

Back of Chicago Flag Postcard

Back of I Heart Chicago Postcard

Back of I Heart Chicago Postcard

Chelsie Tamms in front of the Chicago Style Postcards Installation

Chelsie Tamms in front of the Chicago Style Postcards Installation

This year’s PCA Alumni Show will be up until September 13th, with open gallery hours from 10am-3pm Monday-Friday or by appointment*. For more information on the Prairie Center of the Arts, you can take a look at their website and Facebook page. A huge thank you to Michele and Joe Richey for creating such a special place and artist residency program in the heart of central Illinois that has impacted so many.

*Gallery Appointments: Please schedule at least 48 hours in advance. Contact Michele at 309-657-6767.