By Megan Kelley
As the Orion Township Public Library moves back toward their pre-pandemic style of operation, library staff and volunteers have worked hard to reinstate traditional events and showcase the abundance of local talent.
On Saturday, the library not only hosted their first Friends of the Library book sale in over a year but also was visited by their July Artist of the Month, Kim Santini who greeted patrons with some of her many charcoal drawings that she had drawn throughout the pandemic.
“Part of my art practice is warming up, or thinking about ideas, writing in my journal every day and really the main inspiration behind this was the pandemic and being at home with very large feelings and not really having the vocabulary to express them,” Santini said. “It’s a universal experience, I think, for everyone who went through this last 18 months where you just feel like things can’t get any worse and then they do.”
In her quest to acknowledge her own feelings and emotions in a healthy way throughout the pandemic, Santini’s mentor at the time suggested she “just start drawing.”
From there, Santini began making charcoal drawings of faces.
“I’d come into the studio and I’d have a box of printer paper and I would just pull them out and I’d draw 20 or 30 of them every day and I would sit and think about what I was feeling, compare it to where I was the day before, maybe relate it to some conversations or emails or things I was exchanging with friends and just sort of imagine what a face would look like. Were the eyes open? Was the mouth screaming? Were the muscles clenched? Those sorts of things and then I just picked up a piece of charcoal and I started to draw the face,” said Santini.
Santini, a local artist who has been working and making her living selling her paintings for over 20 years, is not new to being the library’s Artist of the Month. In fact, Santini had been displaying some of her work in the front lobby when COVID-19 first hit last year.
“Being the artist at the library is one of my all-time favorite months every year and I’m so lucky that I’ve been able to do this. I don’t even know if it’s every year, but it’s been consistently. I can remember having my daughter sitting in the corner with books and stuffed animals or puppets while I was hanging shows. So, it’s definitely a proud history,” said Santini. “I love bringing my work here because, oftentimes, the traffic, the patrons that come to the library, aren’t the same people that will go to an art show and so it gives me the opportunity to have conversations with them. It gives me the opportunity to get them inspired about art and this is the first time these (the charcoal drawings) have come out of my studio, I didn’t even share very many of them on social media because they felt so personal and private.”
Even as the world returns to normal, Santini plans on continuing and even adding to these faces.
As of now, the total number of drawings is over 300 that Santini intends to memorialize in video format to show the transformation from her early drawings to more recent drawings.
Not only is Santini an accomplished artist but she has also used her knowledge and experience to try and help those struggling throughout this past year by holding art journaling classes throughout the pandemic.
Santini’s charcoal drawings are currently on display at the Orion Township Public Library lobby and are expected to be up throughout the month of July.
To view Santini’s work, to find contact information or to check out information on workshop courses visit kimberlysantini.com.