UCCS Heller Center hosts Arts Exchange with fusion of professional and student work.  

Local artists Peter Marchand and Marc Shereck collaborated with UCCS students to explore interpreted themes in their photographic novella “Historia Sin Fin.”  

The Heller Center for Arts and Humanities’ new Arts Exchange highlights artwork from local artists around Colorado Springs and challenges students to create art in response. The Arts Exchange is free and open to the public. Students, faculty, staff and the general public are all encouraged to attend. The exhibition will be open Friday, Nov. 17 from 12-4 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 18 from 12-5 p.m. 

Marchand and Shereck contacted Rhonda Goodman-Gaghan, the assistant director and curator, at a time when the Heller Center was looking for artists to feature during the event. The Arts Exchange centers around the themes of their photographic novella, “Historia Sin Fin,” which follows the story of Mani and Nex as they navigate a post-apocalyptic world. In the novella, Mani, the sole surviver of a catastrophic event, travels across the deserted landscape eventually meeting Nex during his journey.  

“The idea is for people to form their own ideas of what the story is really about,” Goodman-Gaghan said.

Goodman-Gaghan has worked at the Heller Center since 2016. She works alongside Max Shulman, the Faculty Director of the Heller Center. Despite being on sabbatical this year, Shulman played a crucial role in initiating the project by reaching out to the Provost’s Office for support. 

A call for proposals extended to UCCS students across the college of LAS, resulting in the selection of Lin Larson, a senior visual arts student, Izaac Leech, a junior visual arts student and Michelle McDonough, a senior visual arts student, for the project. Each student created a piece of artwork that reflects their interpretation of the themes present in “Historia Sin Fin.” 

Larson opted to create a soundscape that accompanied the central story, while Leech and McDonough created sculptures in response to the novella.  

“Throughout the story, these people meet each other and develop this relationship and then have an opportunity to join society and choose to reject it,” Leech said.  

Leech’s sculpture, “The Narrator,” delves into themes of life-altering events and endless journeys. He fused his passion for sculpture and engineering to deconstruct and reconstruct an old radio to serve as the head of his piece.  

“What we find most interesting about this project is the idea of local artists that are relatively well-known in the area coming here and collaborating with students,” Goodman-Gaghan said.  

McDonough’s sculpture, representing a totem, explores themes of forced journeys and displacement. She was inspired by artist Jaime Black and the REDress project, using red in her sculpture as red is thought to be a color that spirits can see. McDonough’s sculpture features symbolic elements such as keys, animal bones, barbed wire, roots being uprooted and personal items including shoes and photographs to evoke the challenges faced by displaced peoples.  

“The landscape is rough — I wanted [the sculpture] to be outside where it could degrade because that’s the journeys that people take,” McDonough said.  

McDonough and her husband came to Colorado after a house fire destroyed their home in California and many of their personal belongings. McDonough’s version of a forced journey drew her to participate in the Arts Exchange.  

“You never know how it is going to end, actually, it never ends. You just keep going. One foot then the other, brick by brick,” McDonough said.  

Students can visit the Heller Center website to learn more about upcoming events and speakers.  

The Narrator by Izaac Leech. Photo by Meghan Germain.