‘Finding joy in chaos’: Artist debuts new exhibition at downtown Farmington art gallery

Public art installations. Murals stretching across the walls of locally-owned businesses. Arthur the Raven.

There is some light to be found in the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, there might be no time better to embrace art and creativity then amidst a period of great unease.

For the artists themselves, it can be a particularly inspiring time to create new works. And not only that but the pandemic and its related shutdowns, especially in those first few months, has afforded everyone a lot more time on their hands.

That’s certainly been the case for Mary Lou Stropoli. The artist has used her time to create a new art exhibition.

The title of the exhibition, Gifts of Quarantine, reflects Stropoli’s attitude in creating the series over the course of a muted year. The content of the painting themselves juxtapose the dark with the light.

“I used the gift of time to paint and produce like never before,” Stropoli says.

“This particular series began on the eve of 2020. I followed the urge to paint images of impending doom, packaged in a beautiful setting. I believe there is beauty to be found in the darkness; it’s not always something to be feared. I’m just in my space, perfectly content finding joy in the chaos.”

Artist MaryLou Stillwagon Stropoli and the beginnings of her mural

Those familiar with downtown Farmington are likely familiar with Stropoli, whether they know it or not. A resident of nearby Farmington Hills, Stropoli owned the old Mother Mary’s Toffee downtown. She is currently on the KickstART Farmington Board and, most recently, she was selected to paint a mural on the side of Sunflour Bakehaus, a playful take on the downtown Farmington streetscape that was painted in late summer.

Gifts of Quarantine opened on Wednesday, Nov. 4, and runs through Wednesday, Dec. 23, at the KickstART Gallery & Shop in downtown Farmington. A socially-distanced opening reception is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.