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Through January 5, 2020
Coe Gallery


Hickory Museum of Art’s exhibition “How Creativity Happens (#seeinglight)” is a unique exploration into the creative process, representing the importance of collaboration and experimentation as promoters of innovation. It all began with a conversation of "What if?" that sparked a stream of collaboration and creative thinking between Hickory Museum of Art, Corning Optical Communications, and Fanjoy Labrenz. Two years later, that conversation has evolved into an educational, ground-breaking exhibition now on view in the Coe Gallery.

(L to R) Hunter Speagle, Carmella Jarvi, Claire Pope, Sally Fanjoy, James Labrenz, and Michael Deckard (Photo Credit: Fanjoy Labrenz)

(L to R) Hunter Speagle, Carmella Jarvi, Claire Pope, Sally Fanjoy, James Labrenz, and Michael Deckard (Photo Credit: Fanjoy Labrenz)

A cross-disciplinary group of artists, creatives, and subject matter experts, led by local artists Sally Fanjoy and James Labrenz, are collaborating to create an innovative work of art. Along with Fanjoy Labrenz, the core group of artists includes: Michael Deckard, Carmella Jarvi, Claire Pope, and Hunter Speagle. Important STEAM topics including problem-framing, observation, prototyping, and concept evaluation take center stage as the team races the clock, while working together to find creative and innovative solutions. The resulting artwork will be loaned to Corning Optical Communications for display at their new corporate headquarters in Charlotte, NC.  

The exhibition will not only engage visitors in immersive learning about creativity, but also position Catawba County as a beacon for new ideas, bold arts, and cultural programming through the development of a radically innovative educational initiative that pushes the boundaries of what an exhibition can be. Typically, art museums present “finished products” during an opening night celebration. However, the evolution of the project will allow audiences to experience the entire scope of the creative process. Viewers will observe trial and error, practical learning, conflict resolution, and all that goes into the development of great art. From whiteboard sketches and prototypes to witnessing and participating in the collaborative team’s dialogue, audiences are invited to incorporate their ideas through exhibition feedback stations and social media.


The Coe Gallery will be transformed into a working lab as the entire process is documented by the artists, creating a living curriculum, which will be released in installments in the gallery. This documentary curriculum will focus on how cross-disciplinary teams can work and blend individual talents to challenge old concepts and create new work. These resources will also be supplemented by the development of classroom materials and professional development tools for area educators, creating the opportunity for students to potentially take part in their own mini projects to develop and document their own creative processes.


Partnering with K64, Hickory Public School’s central office team, and the art program at Grandview Middle School, a curriculum is being launched that will engage every sixth grade student in the district in hands-on, experiential learning created specifically for the show. The materials and resources will also be utilized as problem solving and critical thinking among incarcerated students at Alexander County Juvenile Detention Center through integration with the museum’s “Art for All” program by the museum’s Education Department during their monthly visits to the campus. This longstanding cornerstone of the museum’s social impact mission brings art education, creative skills development, and opportunities for expression to historically underserved audiences across the Unifour region. Comprehensively, “Art for All” will expose upwards of 4,000 at risk students from a wide array of area schools and nonprofits to this program.  

Innovation demands the ability to build solid solutions to increasingly complex problems. With the “How Creativity Happens” exhibition, HMA strives to meet that need through experiences that teach how collaboration, a growth-oriented mindset, and willingness to experiment are key characteristics of the innovator’s toolkit. The entire process from concept to completion, as well as the finished work of art, promotes HMA's mission to bring people together and inspire creativity through the power of art.


Behind-the-Scenes Photography by Fanjoy-Labrenz and Huldah Bewley.

Artists Working Session Live In The Gallery
Sundays: September 22 & October 6 | 1-4 PM

Yoga in the Coe with Artist Sally Fanjoy
Saturdays: September 21, October 19, November 23,
& December 21 | 8:30-9:30 AM

Dr. Michael Deckard Writing/Creating Live in the Gallery
Tuesdays during run of exhibition | 10 AM

Artwork Unveiling Reception
Saturday, November 16 | 6-8 PM
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Alan Mearns Musical Interaction LIVE in the Gallery — Classical Guitar
Sunday, November 24 | 2 PM

Jaki Shelton Greene, North Carolina’s Poet Laureate, Will Present & Respond in the Exhibition Space
Saturday, November 30 | 3 PM
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John Cheek Musical Response
Sunday, December 1 | 2 PM

LRU Playmakers Perform in the Gallery
Tuesday, December 3 | 7 PM


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