Eye Spy: Believing Is Seeing
Eye Spy is a child's game to guess what a person is seeing. What is it that our children see, when they look at us, at their community, at the world? Seeing is not an optical event, it is a process of memory. We do not only see shapes, forms or color; we see what we believe.
Hugh Merrill is an internationally recognized artist whose work is a unique blend of personal vision and community based art actions. Since 1995 Merrill has worked with children with autism, multi-disabilities, blindness and youths at risk. In 1996 he collaborated with artist Christian Boltanski on Our City Our Selves, a metropolitan-wide archiving project exhibited at the Kemper Museum. In 2000 he produced an exhibition based on his work for the past 5 years with youths-at-risk for the Goddard Gallery of the State Fair College in Sedalia Missouri. In the spring of 2001 he completed a graphic mural based on archiving children's lives from Dania Beach Florida sponsored by the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood. In June he went to Africa where he helped facilitate the development of a sculpture park/playground for orphans living with the Sisters of Charity Mission in Nairobi, Kenya. Most recently he worked on the Resilience Initiative of Chameleon Theatre collaborating with adjudicated youth in Kansas City on the visual arts project Power of Myth.
The Child Development Center at University of Kansas Medical Center has invited Merrill to exhibit the Chameleon Theatre resilience project Power of Myth and produce a unique work Eye Spy for Synergy Gallery. Working with Downs Syndrome children from Mize Elementary School in DeSoto Kansas, Merrill has produced a series of digital works based on playing the game Eye Spy with the children. "The work is a celebration of mystery, of children's creativity and their resilience," said Merrill.
As a child, Merrill's artmaking was a process of coping, enlightenment, self-identity, introspection and intellectual investigation. He went undiagnosed for over thirty years with symptoms of dyslexia, ADD and BI-Polar Syndrome. Merrill earned his Bachelor of Fine Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland and a Master of Fine Art from Yale University School of Art and Architecture. As a professional artist/educator he became a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute where he has taught for the past 25 years. He has focused his creative efforts on both his studio work, which has been collected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and on using creativity as a social tool to help disadvantaged children. "Do not mistake the value of art work by children as being therapeutic" says Merrill. "The value is deeper, the images they produce are an insight into their beliefs and the work is a social mirror reflecting our common concerns."