On Dec. 2, an art exhibition featuring the artworks of Heather Sandy and Sarah Marjanovic will open at the Illini Union Art Gallery on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, with a reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The exhibit, titled “Living Hosts: Culturing Collaboration,” suggests what both artists admit: that their current artworks reflect responses to the COVID pandemic.

Sandy, an Effingham resident, and Marjanovic, a Champaign resident formerly from Newton, both have careers in the art field and are actively involved in education and in their communities. Both are recognized artists, having exhibited in numerous states and having been featured often in news articles.

Sandy is an art instructor and head of the art department at Olney Central College (OCC), and Marjanovic is a graphic designer, who was formerly an instructor at OCC, Eastern Illinois University and Parkland College. Each artist has a Master of Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Sandy spent her childhood in an urban setting yet grew up around gardens.

“It was not until I relocated to a rural landscape that I began to see the artificial influences upon nature,” she said. “I am intoxicated by the beauty of nature. While creating representational paintings, landscapes and still-lives, I study color, shape and form; however, I also study how the human hand has shaped the natural.”

Marjanovic grew up in a rural setting, participating in agriculture and wildlands restoration as co-owner of Gillespie Farms.

“My artistic research stems from experiences in the outdoors. Growing up with a family of naturalists has instilled in me a love of nature and a strong sense of place,” said Marjanovic. “I create intriguing interplays. By choreographing vivid aggregations of color and texture, I create dynamic landscapes that reflect both degradation and adaptation and that represent the delicate and vulnerable, as well as the strong and resilient.”

Artworks by both Sandy and Marjanovic were recently displayed at the 29th Cedarhurst Biennial Competition Exhibit from August through October at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon. Over the years, each have exhibited at the Giertz Art Gallery of Parkland College in Champaign, the St. Louis Artists’ Guild’s gallery in Clayton, Missouri, and many others.

The July 2021 edition of Knightline (an OCC publication) noted Sandy’s art piece “Protect and Respect” was awarded first place in the 2021 Art for Health and Unity Competition sponsored by Unity in Action Magazine and will be used in marketing public health safety in the Champaign community.

On Aug. 5, Smile Politely, an online magazine, published “Meet mixed media artist Sarah Marjanovic,” which states, “Experiencing the mixed media work of Sarah Marjanovic is much like encountering the artist herself. The warmth and natural beauty that invites you in is equally matched by the quiet strength that has come from deep commitment to her message, conservation and a stunning range of skills.”

To learn more about Sandy’s dedication to art, travel to Dayton, Ohio, to see the result of a collaborative mural project, “Unifying the Divide,” art by many artists including Sandy.

To discover more about Marjanovic, listen to “Episode IXX Prairie Ridge and the Gillespie Family Farm,” Natural Curiosity, a Steven Shepard podcast, which highlights Marjanovic’s involvement in efforts to restore and maintain natural communities. You could check out “Cows I Have Known” illustrated by Marjanovic or peruse the online presences of Living with Wildlife Illinois, including Outdoor Illinois Journal for which she is the graphic designer.

Both artists maintain websites, http://sarahmarjanovic.com and http://heathersandy.com, and utilize social media.

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