As we enter the final week of the three person exhibition, Constellations I find myself revisiting the work by Mizin Shin, Sara Baker Michalak, and Bill Santelli. Even though I’m the one who invited these artists to be in this exhibition, I am continually amazed at the overlap between each of them.

Constellations at Main Street Arts, January 16–February 26, 2021
Constellations at Main Street Arts, January 16–February 26, 2021

Some of more striking similarities are the ellipse shapes in Bill’s colored pencil Mindstream drawings, which mimic the cast shadows in Mizin’s installation, Small World Network Model and the embedded iconographic star shapes in Sara’s piece, Metaphysical 8, which relate to the irregular circular shapes in Mizin’s screen prints, Small World Network Model (Vol. 2 and 3).

Details of Mindstream #14 by Bill Santelli (left) and Small World Network Model by Mizin Shin (right).

Looking at Bill and Mizin’s work: Not only do these pieces (shown above) relate due to their common shapes, but the shadows cast by the magenta/purple LED lights are a similar yellow hue to Bill’s pencil. The varying sized shapes in Bill’s drawings also have a striking similarity to the variety in size of the hanging orbs and cast shadows in Mizin’s installation as well. When looking at work by Sara and Mizin together (shown below), the black graphic circular shapes jump out from the picture plane and activate your eye to find a pattern in their placement.

Details of Metaphysical 8 by Sara Baker Michalak (left) and Small World Network Model (Vol. 3) No. 1 by Mizin Shin (right)

There are common color palettes and similar marks being made between the artists as well. This keeps me coming back to individual works as well as interesting pairings of the different artist’s work. The work pictured below by Bill and Sara complement each other on several levels. The yellow ochre color of Bill’s colored pencil brings out the warmth in Sara’s mixed media piece. If I were to swap out Mindstream #9 for a piece done in dark blue, Sara’s work would appear to be cooler and the darker subdued shapes in the background would seem to emerge.

Mindstream #9 by Bill Santelli (left) and Cosmos 1 by Sara Baker Michalak (right)
After School Art Experience students learning about art
After School Art Experience students learning about Bill Santelli’s work with instructor, Pam Viggiani

The students in our After School Art Experience have enjoyed learning about the artists and artwork in this exhibition and have made their own unique artwork inspired by Mizin Shin and Bill Santelli. They also have a new appreciation for installation art (thank you, Mizin!), which was a new topic of conversation for our students.

The idea for this exhibition came after I saw Mizin’s work, which we featured in an exhibition on our second floor this past summer. Her interconnected web of lines and shapes made me think of a map of the stars. I then began to think about the stars on various levels. Burning in space, individually providing light and producing energy and when viewed collectively, they make up larger patterns which we assign significance.

I hope you’ve had the chance to see this show in person at the gallery, in its interactive format online, or have listened to Mizin, Sara, and Bill talk about their work in the recording of the virtual reception and artist talk.


Constellations runs through Friday, February 26, 2021 and can also be seen on the gallery’s interactive exhibitions page: interactive.mainstreetartscs.org/.

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