COVID & Connection | Artist Avery Shrader

For many artists, leaving home and moving to a bigger city is a right of passage. Avery Shrader, an artist who moved from Iowa City to Chicago in the fall of 2019, had that experience taken away from her. “ I applied to art school, and I got in and I got a scholarship, the Art Institute in Chicago. Then the pandemic hit, and I came back to Iowa City. Now I'm here for who knows how long.”


While her time in Chicago was brief, Shrader was quickly absorbed into a dedicated community of artists. “With those ideas, those concepts that I would talk about with my friends in Chicago, you kind of submerge yourself in a bubble. It’s hard to get out of when you're around artists and all you do is talk about art.”


While moving to Chicago could be daunting for some young artists, Shrader feels that the scope of the creative scene is difficult for many to pass up. “There’s more saturation of creativity,” she says, “[in Iowa City] the university has a pretty decent art program. So there are some good people our age who are doing stuff, but once they graduate they usually leave because it's not a huge demand for creative jobs here.”


Still stuck at home, Shrader has chosen to make the best of things. Connecting with the creative community in Iowa City has inspired her to put on an art show of her own. The show will take place at Buzz Salon in Iowa City, August 14th-15th.


The pandemic has also given Shrader a chance to reflect on her work. Despite working across many mediums, Shrader maintains a style that transcends form. “I definitely have a style, it's all coming from me, so I would hope that no matter what medium it is, it would be cohesive,” the artist said.

This cohesion is characterized by the concept of connectivity. “I always try to show with most of my art that we're all connected one way or another.”


Shrader’s subjects often are connected physically, as seen in her painting The Public Minds. Connectivity is also prevalent in her conceptual work. In her piece Connective Thoughts, Shrader set up a vase of flowers connected by a tube with a cup of water. She provided dissolvable paper that observers could write on and drop in the water. That way, she explains, “everyone's thoughts are mixing together, feeding the flowers.”


To Shrader connection is integral to art in general.


“In general, is all about trying to connect someone to the piece. It’s like a language.”


That isn’t the only connection that Shrader hopes to make. “They're all viewing this piece, and you’re kind of connecting everyone together.” This connection, especially considering the isolation of the last year, is vital.


Avery Schrader is an artist and creative living and working out of Iowa City, Iowa. To find out more about her work you can follow her on Instagram @shradesmakesthings


Interview by Ollie Morelli, @olliemorelli on Instagram