As temperatures plummet outside and people settle in for the rest of the blustery winter, one downtown gallery is working to lift spirits with fine art currently on display.
The Spirit Room, 111 Broadway N., has always been a place where creativity inspires contemplation and healing. Now, two women’s work on display takes that mission to the next level with their bodies of work including striking colors and messages of hope and unease.
“Attitude Adjustment” by Emily Williams-Wheeler uses layers of color to create spinning worlds of texture and depth that heighten whimsical subjects like fluffy sheep, blue birds and bumblebees. Her more abstract works make use of precisely placed yet delicate lines.
With a gaze that strays off the canvas onto the observer, Jessica Meeks’ “Intimate Moments” feature a diverse lineup of colorful female figures, some adrift in the endless cosmos, others with rosebud eyes and others devoid of sight altogether.
In the exhibits, on display until Feb. 22, the contrasting works of paintings may explore different subject matter, but they work toward the same goal — to cause a shiver of thought.
“You can feel the colors warm up the room,” Williams-Wheeler says about the power of color. “It’s not only about my work and looking backwards to what brought me and my patrons joy, it’s also about looking forward in a more hopeful and joyful way with all the colors.”
A self-taught artist, Williams-Wheeler is known for her courage to be colorful. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interior design and explores media, including acrylics, graphite, encaustic wax, and wire and paper sculptures. Her work can be found in medical, educational, corporate and residential installations.
From huge flowers that once hung from the ceiling around the fountains at Fargo’s West Acres to artwork incorporated into the architecture of the new Dorothy Dodds Elementary School in Moorhead, her imagery can be found throughout the community.
View this post on Instagram
Happy Saturday, everyone! We can't wait to welcome you this weekend 😊 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Psst… Haven't had a chance to check out @emily_williams_wheeler's aerial installation in our Fountain Court? Trust us – it's a must see 😍 But hurry, it will only be up for a few more weeks! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #westacresmall #experiencewestacres #fargond #ilovefargo #midwestisbest #localart #fargoartists
A post shared by West Acres Mall (@westacresmall) on
Set prominently in the Spirit Room’s Gallery 1, a large 7-by-3-foot piece features three colorful sheep that shine with a spectrum of colors that emit a warmth like the rising sun. A playful title called “Ewe’ve Got Attitude” uses the term for female sheep to extend the creativity past the canvas.
“People really connect with sheep for some reason,” Williams-Wheeler says. “We love them because they’re warm and fuzzy and their wool that is great particularly for where we live.”
In contrast to these warm, fuzzy moments, Meeks’ work pushes and pulls pale blues and light lavenders like supple taffy.
While simple at first glance, the profiles of each drowsy character portray a distinct story within the Spirit Room’s Lotus Studio. In her artist statement, Meeks states, “Paint what makes your heart hurt.”
Where color sparks interest, there’s an equal and opposite pull toward a reflective moment, such as the bright purple-haired female titled “Poisonous” sinking neck-deep into a sea of digital distraction.
“Painting for me is a very vulnerable experience,” Meeks says. “Having always struggled with anxiety, it has become my outlet of expression while also a meditative experience. Painting soothes me, and in that thought I strive to bring the same calming effect to others.”
Meeks earned a bachelor’s in fine arts in Dayton, Ohio, before moving to Minneapolis, where she currently resides. Her works are a collection of imagery that she pieces together like a collage of emotions from fleeting moments in a visualization of her thoughts.
In addition to works currently on display, the Spirit Room has an upcoming musical performance from Angels of Muse, a nonprofit dedicated to uplifting the spirit through the performing arts. Everyone is welcome to attend their first performance of the new year at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11, for a charge of $5 to support future Spirit Room programming.
What: “Attitude Adjustment” by Emily Williams-Wheeler and “Intimate Moments” by Jessica Meeks
When: Now through Feb. 22
Where: The Spirit Room, 111 Broadway N., Fargo
Info: The Spirit Room is open 1-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday
This article is part of a content partnership with the Fargo Forum and appeared in print on Monday December 30, 2019.