A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

WKCTC’s Paducah School of Art and Design to host community involved art exhibition by Ruth Baggett

West Kentucky Community and Technical College’s Paducah School of Art and Design (PSAD) will open Extension of Thought, a community involved art installation by Ruth Baggett with a free community reception January 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Bill Ford Gallery. The gallery is located at PSAD’s 2D and Graphic Design Building at 905 Harrison Street in Paducah’s Lower Town Arts District.

The exhibition will remain on display through February 22 and is complemented by an exhibition of student works from 21st Century McCracken County Community Centers, a consortium of schools within the district receiving grant funding for afterschool activities through the 21st Century program. The student works will be on display in PSAD’s upstairs and downstairs alcove galleries.

WKCTC’s Paducah School of Art and Design to host Ruth Baggett exhibition. Free opening reception January 18 (Photo from WKCTC)

“Extension of Thought brings together two distinct, even incongruous traditions – southern storytelling and Tibetan prayer flags – to remind each of us of our common path and shared future,” said Paul Aho, PSAD director. “Over the past seven months, Ruth has reached out to people young and old in places of prayer and play, in times of sickness and celebration to collect thousands of our community’s thoughts, wishes, prayers, and hopes. Extension of Thought will assemble these small “stories” and present them in the installation as prayers for our common need for compassion and tolerance, along with our thirst for knowledge and understanding,” said Aho.

The installation consists of 25 handbound books strung on 30′ long floor-to-ceiling “ladders” that are crocheted from hemp and bamboo. Each ladder will explore a single subject – family, kindness, humor, animals – and contain brief stories handwritten by their tellers. Using over 2,500 pieces of hand-torn Japanese paper, the books and paper pennants will float around and above visitors.

Baggett, a native of Paducah, said she wants the exhibition to be a visual version of Fanfare to the Common Man, referring to Aaron Copeland’s orchestral piece written as a hymn and celebration of American unity at the start of World WII. “It is a consolidation of individuals that creates culture. Individuals may choose conflict or unity, good or evil, but most of us choose to move toward happiness,” she said.

Baggett received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Murray State University with an emphasis in weaving and a Master of Fine Arts degree in bookarts and printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She studied bookbinding and preservation with Hedi Kyle, a German-born book artist and educator, and she later interned as a letterpress printer with Peter Kruty Editions in Brooklyn, N.Y. She recently retired from a thirty-one-year career in education and owned and operated her own art gallery exhibiting local, regional, national and international artists in Paducah for ten years.

The college’s PSAD offers an Associate in Fine Arts degree in Visual Art and an Associate in Applied Science degree and certificate programs in Visual Communication: Multimedia, as well as studio art classes for students of all levels and disciplines. Classes are offered on WKCTC’s campus, 905 Harrison Street and 919 Madison Street.

From West Kentucky Community and Technical College

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