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“Simple Steps,” a mixed-media art exhibition by Dayton-based artist Carly Evans and others, is on display at the Yellow Springs Arts Council through June 23. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday, 1–4 p.m. (Photo by El Mele)

‘Simple Steps’ at the YS Arts Council

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By El Mele

“Simple Steps,” an exhibition currently on display at the YS Arts Council, aims to attune those who view its pieces to what can be experienced by the senses — and beyond.

The exhibition, curated by Dayton-based mixed-media collage artist and creator Carly Evans, features the curator’s work, as well as that of four other creators: Tink, a.k.a. Ashlyn Zerangue; Teri Campell; Becky Potts; and Bartek Karas. “Simple Steps” is on display through June 23.

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According to a press release, “Simple Steps” has been designed “to pay tribute to the sensory, as well as the extra-sensory perceptions.”

The News spoke recently with curator Evans, who discussed how the phases of her career and her spiritual practice influenced the guiding theme of the exhibition.

Evans, who is originally from Chicago, graduated in 2008 from Eastern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in communications studies with a focus in public relations, a minor in advertising and an independent study in rhetoric. She said she had wanted to study fashion design, but was made to go to a state college by her parents, adding that she cried at the beginning of every semester, wishing she were in art school. In retrospect, however, she said she is thankful for her education.

“Now I have a background in PR, which is really helping me be an artist,” Evans said. “I have the tools that I need to put myself out there and pitch myself to different audiences.”

Evans did go on to work in fashion, acting as a stylist and apprentice under Evelyn Daitchman, of Axis of Evelyn in Chicago, and later starting her own styling business, Chicago Closet Consultations. She has also lent her talents to a number of other enterprises over the years, working for nonprofit organizations, in communications positions, and in 2019, becoming a flight attendant for Air Wisconsin.

In November 2021, Evans relocated to Dayton, where Air Wisconsin was opening a maintenance base. Later, she undertook training to become a yoga teacher, and in November 2022, left her flight attendant position due to the physical demand it required, and began working as a middle school substitute teacher. In March of this year, Evans began teaching full-time in Fairborn.

“I wanted to go back to working in PR after my time as a substitute, but my intuition told me I wanted to be a teacher, so I applied to work in Fairborn, and I love it,” she said.

Evans has practiced astrology since 2015, and said that practice, in conjunction with her intuitive voice, guides a lot of her decisions. For example, her Saturn Return — when the planet Saturn returns to the same position in the sky as it was when a person was born — helped her decide to leave fashion and pursue her astrology practice full-time in 2018.

“You’re ushered into adulthood, and things that aren’t meant to stay with you go away,” Evans said.

She added that she originally resisted going into astrology, as it wasn’t mainstream at the time, though she reflected on the benefits of pursuing it — particularly as it was difficult to make friends in the Chicago fashion industry.

“[Astrology] gave me the opportunity to make genuine connections with people,” she said. “Getting dressed with people, you are physically intimate, but this is a different type of intimacy — emotional intimacy.”

Evans established Structure Constructor — a business focused on astrology, mystic messages, guided meditations and dream circles — while in Chicago, and has stepped back into that business within the last six months, providing readings based on clients’ astrological birth charts.

Her own spiritual practice, she said, is greatly incorporated into her art. For over a decade, she has been participating in dream circle, a talking and meditation practice in which participants are invited to follow along with whatever comes up for them — sounds, sensations, thoughts, etc. — as opposed to quieting the mind.

“Through my mediation, the ideas [for the exhibition] … were just handed to me,” she said. “I did do some sitting and thinking about it, being like, ‘Really?’ but my intuition always prevailed.”

As part of the “Simple Steps” exhibition, Evans will host dream circle meditation Sunday, June 23, at 6 p.m.; a previous dream circle session was held Wednesday, June 12.

“I feel like one of the reasons I’m here is to share this tool, because it’s very powerful to have a very loud inner guidance system,” Evans said. “Everyone has an intuitive voice, but it is like a muscle; it needs to be used and worked in order for it to be useful.”

“Simple Steps” also includes the curated work of four other creators, whose collective work in the exhibition includes “plants, reflections of light and carpentry to the finest degree, as well as incentives for nose breathing,” according to a YS Arts Council press release.

Tink, also known as Ashlyn Zerangue, is a local artist and the founder of More Hip Creations, which offers soaps, candles and fragrances. Suncatchers from Terri Campbell, a jewelry-maker whose designs focus on the use of gemstones, glass, crystals and metal beads, will be on display. Bartek Karkas is a Chicago woodworker and owner of Wild Board Woodworking; Karkas turns discarded and donated woods into handmade items that range from the practical, such as cutting boards, bowls and furniture, to the whimsical, in the form of sculptures and toys. Becky Potts, owner of Beck’s Blooms in Springfield, donated the plants on display.

Upon entering the exhibition in the YS Arts Council space, to the right is a mirror hanging on the wall, with reflections outlined by a large plant. Colorful backgrounds of various forms shape the displays, with Evans’ collages and oracle cards framing handmade wooden sculptures that hold test tubes with donated plants, exposing their roots. Candles, soap and other fragrance sources are strategically placed throughout the exhibit to engage the senses. In the window, suncatchers hang, creating refractions that dance along the floor as the golden hour comes and goes.

Each display draws the eye toward the next, each playfully interacting with one another. Stepping back, taking in all the shapes, colors and fragrances of the exhibition at once, brings the space to life.

“Simple Steps” is on display at the Yellow Springs Arts Council, 111 Corry St., through June 23. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday, 1–4 p.m. A closing reception will be held Saturday, June 22, 5–10 p.m.; Evans suggests that those planning to attend arrive as close to 5 p.m. as possible to witness the light show created by Campbell’s dreamcatchers. A dream circle meditation will be held Sunday, June 23, at 6 p.m. at the Arts Council.

*The author is a student at Antioch College and a freelance reporter for the News.

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