The underwater community took shape on easels and in the kilns at Sunshine Studios in Uptown Maumee.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAUMEE, Ohio – Glazed in brilliant swirls of blues, greens and other underwater shades, a community of creatures – some based in nature; others fantastical - has taken up temporary residence at the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium.
The underwater community took shape on easels and in the kilns at Sunshine Studios in Uptown Maumee. Since 2014, Sunshine Studios has provided creative space for the entire community as well as about two dozen artists with developmental disabilities.
The project took two months to complete – from collaborating on an initial vision to choosing the right medium to putting on the final touches on each piece, said Larry Knight, arts coordinator at Sunshine Studios. The in-house artists Knight leads each weekday are part of a supported employment program by Sunshine Communities, which since 1950 has supported people with developmental disabilities.
The artists were handed the “freedom of color and whatever they wanted to do,” Knight said.
The result is impressive: A brilliant and whimsical swirl of color in a collection of teeth, tentacles, spikes and a few exaggerated expressions of mischief line a 33-feet long section at the entrance of the aquarium. The collection consists of 24 creatures, including a large octopus and a sea turtle, 65 custom-made, iridescent “bubbles” and 20 canvasses of seaweed and wave foam. This underwater creation features both freshwater and saltwater creatures as well as those born of “pure imagination,” Knight said. Artists laid out the project on the floor of the studio to plan the layout of exhibit.
Yet the final product is more stunning than they could have imagined, Knight said: “It was kind of hard to tell what it would actually look like, but once it went up - with the lighting and the iridescence of the lusters and the combinations of the combination of the glazes – it really jumps out.”
The project gave the artists an “awesome” creative experience, pushing them to stretch both research skills and imagination, said Melissa Jender, one of the most veteran artists of Sunshine Communities, which operates the Studios.
“We didn’t have to be precise. We just looked up images and went off the images for some of the pieces. With some of other ones, we just did what we wanted,” she said.
The zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last admission at 4 p.m. The exhibit runs through May 31.
ABOUT THE TOLEDO ZOO AQUARIUM: Constructed by local craftsmen using recycled materials during the Great Depression as a Works Progress Administration project, the Aquarium was opened to the public on May 1, 1939 as then the world’s largest freshwater Aquarium. The structure underwent a 2½-year renovation, reopening in March of 2015 with space for an ever-changing gallery which focuses on local artists. The new Aquarium features more than 3,000 animals in 178,000 gallons of water. Admission to the aquarium and gallery is included in zoo admission.
ABOUT SUNSHINE COMMUNITIES: The Maumee-based nonprofit supports more than 400 men, women and children with developmental disabilities in Northwest Ohio as well as their families and loved ones. It offers housing as well as vocational, clinical, respite and recreational services. Sunshine has operated Georgettes’ Grounds & Gifts, 311 Conant, since 2005 and Sunshine Studios, 305 Conant, since 2014 to provide supported employment to workers with disabilities.
For more information about Sunshine Studios, contact Robin Erb, V.P. of Communications at Sunshine: rerbsunshine.org, 419-794-8647 (desk), or 419-340-3604 (c).
For more information about the Toledo Zoo, contactShayla Bell Moriarty, director of communication, Shayla.moriartytoledozoo.org 419-385-5721 ext. 2155.