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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

Contracommon’s “Bodies Akin” gallery highlights local artists’ takes on the art of the human figure

Hailey Womack / Hilltop Views
Morgan Grigsby’s “Adult Swim” welcomes you into the “Bodies Akin” exhibition. Grigsby’s inspiration behind the piece was Hans Holbein’s sixteenth century painting of Christ in the tomb, reimagined as himself during summertime. To find out more, check out his Instagram @morgangrigsbyart or his website

Contracommon is an artist-run non-profit devoted to fostering the development of local artists located in Bee Cave’s Hill Country Galleria. The space includes multiple studios, event space and an experimental gallery space with rotating exhibitions. The current theme, “Bodies Akin,” is a figurative show focusing on the human figure from the varying perspectives of a plethora of Texas based artists. The gallery space is available for free viewing Friday’s through Sunday’s from 2 to 6 p.m. until April 8. 

“Having it be a nonprofit, community-based like organization is also really helpful in terms of having a support system of artists who understand what we’re all going through, or who can be there for each other,” Holly Cerna, co-curator of “Bodies Akin” and a member since 2021, said.

Upon entering the space, wafts of incense and classical music reverberates through the gallery. Paintings and multi-media works span across the walls, with various art styles, sizes and color palettes. Prints, small artwork and stickers are available to purchase from the members of the Contracommon collective.

The exhibition is made out of Texas artists’ work and was curated by Darryl Demps, Holly Cerna and Molly Knobloch. Out of over 20 submissions, only four didn’t make the final cut. Some artists sent multiple pieces to be chosen from, but every artist who submitted work is featured in the exhibition.

“Contracommon is a collective of artists,” Demps said. “Our goal is to not only be emerging artists but help out other emerging artists. So we’re always throwing events, we’re always creating community. We’re just trying to get more and more people who are artists who may not have access to opportunities to get those opportunities and learn and grow within a community.” 

If you’re like me and love consuming art, then there’s no better place to do so than Contracommon — it’s supporting local artists who put their heart and soul into their pieces. If you want to push the bounds of your own creativity, they also host monthly events you can take part in.

“Everybody is welcome, we just hope that you respect the space and respect the craft,” Demps said. “If you are someone who is like, ‘Oh well I do this for fun, I’m not a professional artist’ whatever that title means, and you want to come to Drink and Draw, come drink and draw with us. We’re not going to be like, ‘nah bro what’s your CV you can’t step in these doors,’; nobody is too cool.”

Cerna also talks about how Contracommon helped build her support system after graduation. She noted that critiques from professors have the potential to be damaging to artists and that fostering community is important. 

“If we need feedback, critiques, any skills that one of us might not have, somebody else might have,” Cerna said. “It’s very, very helpful to have an artists community instead of just being by ourselves. I think that a lot of artists are mistaken that they are alone, and that they don’t have a support system in any way. You can find that with other artists and that’s something that I think that Austin really is doing well at and will continue to do better in building up these art communities that once didn’t exist. That’s really amazing to me, to be a part of this organization (that) really helps bring the Austin art culture to the Bee Cave area.”

Both Demps and Cerna extended the invitation to artists looking for a home or for community to take part in Contracommon.

“We’re in Bee Cave, we’re out here, we’re just trying to grow community,” Demps said. “So, if you are located in the Bee Cave area and you’re looking for an artist hub of community, we are your people. Come hang with us.”

Cerna emphasizes that Contracommon is always looking for new members and inquiries can be made by appointment or in person.

“If anyone is interested in learning more about how to be involved in Contracommon or if you’re an artist soon to graduate looking for studio space, thinking about where you want to take your art, career and stuff,” Cerna said. “This is a place of healing, a place of community and acceptance and a judgment-free zone in terms of your work and what you have to offer.”

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About the Contributor
Hailey Womack
Hailey Womack, News Editor
Hailey Womack is a junior English major with a minor in Journalism & Digital Media. This is her third semester with Hilltop Views and her first year as News Editor. She's very passionate about the Austin area, as she has been a native all of her life. When not reading romantic period books, she enjoys playing basketball.

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