Cafe at Prairie Lights

  • How Beautiful is thy Dwelling

    An Exhibition by Kate Allen
    On view from December 14, 2015  - January 31, 2016

    Please join us for an exhibition reception with the artist
    on Saturday, January 30th from 6-8 PM at the cafe!

    Artist's Exhibition Statement:

    Since I was a child I have had the habit of holding onto memories. I would try so hard to hold onto the good ones and relive them in my mind, only to have them fade too quickly. Conversely, I would try desperately hard to forget the difficult memories only to have them become more and more vivid in my mind.

    My memories of bad experiences haunt me and keep me from moving on. I dwell on them all the time, and wish I could go back and change them, or at least move on. I find myself getting angry about events that happened years ago. I must be a masochist because I revisit objects or old diaries that remind me about these events for no reason other than to see what? Perhaps to see what I wrote, or remember how I felt, maybe even to put myself back into painful experiences?

    I was talking with my husband a couple years ago, talking again about something that was still bothering me from my past, he suggested I try putting these disconcerting experiences into my work - to use this work as a way to finally realize these events and then put them away and move on.

    In brainstorming I found the best way to carry out the idea was to use the still life as a vehicle for representing my struggle. I believe the tradition of the Still Life as a symbolic medium allowed me to communicate difficult moments in my life without literally recreating them. My photographs became a code for my memories involving sexual assault, broken relationships, regrets, insults, personal threats, loss, betrayal, natural disasters, and physical pain. I liked this idea, because a lot of my past work has dealt with viewers being able to bring their own experiences to the photographs and come up with their own read without me spelling out exactly what is going on.

    I want to take these hard memories and create something beautiful from them. I want to turn them from ugly memories into something less frightening, even into comforting moments, like the good memories that we all try so desperately to hold onto.

    To create beauty from my dwelling.

    Most people will experience one or more of these events in their lifetime and just as my images have brought me a sense of “letting go” and “moving on” I am hoping that perhaps they might also reach out to someone else. Whether their damage is similar to mine or completely different, perhaps they can find answers in themselves or simply appreciate how beauty and order can emerge from something horrible.

    About the Artist

    Kate grew up in Japan, Okinawa, Colorado, and Korea as a daughter of an Air Force Officer. She holds an MFA in Photography from the University of Iowa and a Graduate Certificate in Book Arts from the University of Iowa Center for the Book. Her work has been shown in galleries around the United States and abroad.

    My photography explores the hidden beauty found in non-traditional environments. The photos are generally given without reference or context, allowing the viewer to create his/her own narrative.

    For more information about the artist, please visit:

    For sale inquries or to make purchases, please contact:
    Sarika Sugla, Gallery Curator, at

  • Insects: A Collection of These Butterflies

    An Exhibition by Kevin Chamberlain
    On view November 9 - December 13, 2015

    Join us for an exhibition reception on
    December 11th from 6:30 - 8:30 PM!

    Insects: A Collection of These Butterflies

    stands by itself. apart of me/
    created by me. a manifestation of a time
    with me.
    calculated time/ a cycle.
    through which, i found it when it
    found me.
    its end/ we both knew.
    its start/ again/ we must find.

    About the Artist

    Kevin Chamberlain is a local artist fascinated by the insect world. This collection of butterflies is a personal extension of Insects, his collaborative project with the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History and local Iowa schools that premiered in 2012. Kevin is a Preparator at the University of Iowa Museum of Art and for their Legacies for Iowa Collections Sharing Project.  He holds a BFA from the University of North Dakota, and in 2012, he completed his MA and MFA in Ceramics with a minor in Jewelry and a Museum Studies Certificate at the University of Iowa.  His work is collected and displayed nationally and internationally.

    To learn more about the artist, please visit his website:

    For sale inquries or to make purchases, please contact:
    Sarika Sugla, Gallery Curator, at

  • nAMUH: Selected Drawings from Chapters 2 and 3

    An exhibition by Ryan Bentzinger
    On view October 5 - November 8, 2015

    Please join us for an exhibition receptionon on Saturday, November 7th from 6 - 8 PM!

    About the Exhibition

    nAMUH is an imaginative story featuring 197 original works on paper by Iowa-City based artist Ryan Bentzinger. These drawings are part of the artists’ newly finished fine art novel. nAMUH, Book 1, will be self-published by the artist, and will be available at local stores by the winter of 2015-16.

    This fine art novel explores a post-apocalyptic world full of mysteries and tales of hardship. Showcasing 13 works on paper from Chapters 2 and 3, a fellowship of characters unite and embark on their joint quest to find answers regarding the chaotic world in which they live. Why are children going missing? What are these rumors about robots living on the islands?

    About the Artist

    Ryan Bentzinger is a teaching artist based out of Iowa City. He graduated with a BA in Studio Art with Honors in Education from the University of Iowa in 2011. He has exhibited nationally and internationally and has work in the permanent collections of the Santiago Museum of Contemporary Art and the University Museums of the Iowa State University. Ryan has been the assistant to Chunghi Choo for the last five years and has been teaching Art at Willowwind School since 2012.

    When he is not drawing, painting, and writing, he enjoys traveling, teaching, and advocating for the arts. Inspired by imaginative stories and societal phenomena, he continues to work toward his life-long goals of getting his Dwarf Ranger to level 20 in Pathfinder and becoming a Pokemon master.

    For more information about the artist, please visit:

    For sale inquries or to make purchases, please contact Sarika Sugla, Gallery Curator, at

  • IWP Writers

    An exhibition of portraits by Thomas Langdon
    On view August 31 - October 4, 2015

    Please join us for an exhibition reception at Prairie Lights Cafe
    on Sunday, September 20th from 5-6 PM (right after the IWP Reading)!

    Artists Statement

    “I began photographing visiting writers of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program in 2002.  The idea developed while photographing for the book cover of Edward Carey’s (IWP 2002) novel Alva and Irva.  Since then I have photographed over 200 writers and I look forward to meeting and photographing them every fall.  They have very strong presences.  Some have been through difficult ordeals including imprisonment, national conflicts or exile.  There is a richness, a maturity in their faces, glances and gestures that are very telling.  It is the writer that provides the portrait. I am simply there to respond briefly with my camera and the existing light. Thank you to Christopher Merrill, Hugh Ferrer and the staff of the IWP for graciously granting me access to the writers and IWP events.”

    About the Artist

    Thomas Langdon has four decades of experience as a photographer.  He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography and sculpture and a Master of Arts degree in anthropology.  An on-going personal project is portraiture of writers from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP).  A selection of thirty-five writer portraits are installed as a permanent exhibition in the reception areas of the University of Iowa’s Health Care Iowa River Landing facility.  His writer portraits have been frequently exhibited and also used on numerous book jackets and in international publications. He has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Iowa Arts Council for photography exhibitions in public and social spaces.  Langdon travels internationally to photograph, most frequently to the Mexican states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Michocán and in 2013 traveled to South Sudan as a visiting lecturer with sponsorship by the State Department and the IWP.  He lives in rural Johnson County, Iowa.

    For more information, please visit the artist’s website at:

    For sale inquiries or to make purchases, please contact