Collective Growth

The Emerging Artists Collective (EAC) is a local network of artists who came together with a vision to “encourage, educate and create for more artistic opportunities.” Having recently celebrated its first anniversary, the Facebook group continues to grow in numbers. Members post about upcoming gallery shows and job opportunities, request feedback on works in progress, ask questions and more. “The sky is the limit,” says Blair Clark, one of the group’s early organizers.

The EAC developed out of the “Unseen Voices” exhibition at the Foster Gallery for Christianity and the Fine Arts in the summer of 2016. The juried exhibit featured 25 up-and-coming artists selected by Clark and fellow artist Sarah Nesbit. The experience led them to ask several questions: “What does art mean in Peoria? How do we and others become better patrons in our community? What does an artists’ network look like, and how would that happen?” And “probably most importantly,” Clark adds, “What do artists in our city need?"

Unified in their desire to encourage the growth of the arts in Peoria, Clark, Nesbit and other leaders invited artists to attend meetings and provide feedback. “We wanted to hear what they were looking for,” Clark explains. “In part, this group not only desires to give to artists, but to have each and every artist learn how to give to one another as well.”

The EAC organizes monthly meetings with guest speakers, discussion time, show announcements, art history presentations and opportunities for critique. They also host informal social gatherings and recently participated in IGNITE Peoria and the Peoria Art Guild’s Fine Art Fair. In February of 2019, the group will hold a show at the downtown Peoria Public Library focused on the topic of mental health. Artists interested in joining the group should find them on Facebook. a&s