"Souvenirs," a mixed-media work by local artist Zahrah Resh, uses vibrant colors to activate the viewer's imagination.
Courtesy image

Most artists try to tell their own story with their work. Local artist Zahrah Resh prefers to flip the script.

“I want people to see themselves in my art,” Resh said. “I want them to tell their story; I’ve already done the work.”

The artist's latest exhibit, “Great Escapes,” opens Friday at the Lansing Art Gallery. The display features a collection of Resh’s paintings and mixed-media works, as well as some smaller works — “little critters,” Resh calls them — thrown in. The great escape, Resh explained, is an escape of the imagination through vibrancy of color.

“I can always recognize a Zahrah,” said Barb Whitney, Lansing Art Gallery executive director. “Her work features a bold color palette, and the texture is unique.”

This style has allowed Resh to carve a niche for herself in the mid- Michigan art scene.

“She’s distinctive,” Whitney said. “People know her.”

As a child growing up in Malaysia, Resh imagined fantastic places and shapes in vivid colors. These mental images continue to drive her art.

“I come from a self-taught background, and I love colors,” Resh said. “Even if I really tried, I cannot imagine myself working without colors. Even my darkest painting is a happy painting.”

While Resh owns and operates her own gallery, she enjoys collaborating with local galleries. Places like Lansing Art Gallery, she said, are crucial to finding and highlighting artists in the region.

“We have a lot of local talent,” Resh said. “I want people to see what local artists can really do.”

The exhibition, which is on display through Aug. 25, opens Friday night with an artist talk and reception.

“The talk is a unique way to get a sneak peak behind the artist’s mindset and work,” Whitney said.

The reception follows the recent trend of local galleries hosting events on weekend evenings, trying to attract a younger crowd that may not want to visit a gallery on a Sunday afternoon.

“Having our reception is the most accessible thing we do,” Whitney said. “Many residents make an evening out of it.”

For the reception, Resh will demonstrate her skills in a nonvisual medium: food. The artist is also preparing the evening’s refreshments.

“Food is my first art medium,” Resh said. “I love to create food, and I told Barb I wanted to make it.”

Resh hopes that the combination of food and are will work together to create a multi-sensory experience.

“The whole idea of ‘Great Escapes’ is escaping from the norm,” Resh said. “That includes the food and art.”

“Great Escapes” Opening Reception

5:30–8 p.m. Friday, July 8 FREE Lansing Art Gallery 119 N. Washington Square, Lansing (517) 374-6400, lansingartgallery.org