A local art group is supporting other artists in one of the most helpful ways possible.
Artists around the Springfield area showcase their art in a group called Input + Output, and observers critique the artists’ work.
Senior Macy Stevens, art and photography major, said Input + Output is a positive environment where artists from a variety of mediums and backgrounds can present their projects and gain helpful feedback on their work.
“It’s a great opportunity for local artists to get experience talking about their work in a loving and productive space,” Stevens said.
She heard about the group from her friend, Rick Briggenhorst, who is a museum assistant at the Springfield Art Museum where the group meets.
She also said the group welcomes everyone, artists and non-artists alike.
Levi Margolies, 25, attended Missouri State University from 2012 until 2016, majoring in religious studies. He showcased his art at the most recent meeting.
Margolies primarily draws faces using crayons and colored pencils.
“I’ve always used crayons,” Margolies said. “That’s what has always been available to me. It’s not even that I got good with them when I was little, it’s just what I’m comfortable with.”
He said it seemed natural for him to use crayons when he first started drawing faces.
Margolies moved to St. Louis after graduation where he works for an online used books company and has started to dive into drawing things other than faces, like fingers and ears.
Sometimes while at work, he will doodle on Post-it notes to practice.
“If people would have asked me if I was an artist, I would have said no,” Margolies said. “Everyone likes coloring in coloring books when they’re younger or when they’re stressed.”
The reason he never considered himself an artist is that he never had formal training.
Margolies said he is a self-taught artist, having never taken any real art classes outside of high school.
His friends saw his doodles and told him he should consider himself an artist.
“They said I don’t have to know anything about art to be an artist,” Margolies said. “You just have to make things.”
The Springfield Art Museum was established in 1926 by a small group of women, according to their website.
Besides exhibits, the museum offers multiple classes and workshops. But, Stevens said this particular group has expanded her knowledge about the Springfield art community.
“(Input + Output) has allowed me to see how much talent there is here, and I’m excited for the future of Springfield, Missouri, because of it,” Stevens said.
Stevens’ artwork focuses on photography and illustrations. Much of her work revolves around subcultures, identity and empowerment.
She said the group gives helpful feedback and creates connections within the Springfield art community in a relaxed setting.
Crystal Skram, senior art and printmaking major, said the group is a call for all artists to be critiqued.
“I wanted a little more feedback on my work because I have my bachelor of fine arts senior exhibition coming up,” Skram said.
Skram is a printmaker who considers herself more commercial-based and tries to be versatile.
She specifically does silk screens — described as “putting a decal on a shirt.”
Although she does not actually print images on T-shirts, she said it is a good way of explaining what she does.
“What I end up doing is putting my stuff on anything from paper, to metal, to wood — literally you can screen print on any flat surface,” Skram said.
She said screen printing is similar to a stretched canvas, but instead of canvas, it is a sheet that paint is pushed through.
She said it can be hard to get true feedback in the classroom due to people either not talking or just taking the class for credit. Skram said she could not get accurate feedback from her friends either.
“Of course you’re going to get all this feedback that’s like, ‘Oh that’s so good, I love it,’ and I’m like OK but why?” Skram said.
Skram said being able to get genuine feedback outside the classroom is extremely relieving, and one of the refreshing things about being a part of Input + Output.
“Ultimately, your product ends up being better from the exposure you get,” Skram said. “There’s not pressure to be professional. There’s no pressure to be a certain type of way.”
While the group critiques the presenter’s work, it is never in a way that makes the artist feel bad about what they have created, Skram said.
Skram said the artists typically have an hour to present their material however they like.
Input + Output meets every second and fourth Saturday of the month at 3 p.m. Their next meeting will be April 13.