Everson Museum of Art’s ‘On My Own Time’ showcases hidden workplace talent

Everson opens 'Own My Own Time'

The program-based exhibition that features artwork created by employees of local businesses is back after a two-year pause.
Published: October 6, 2022
Artwork at the
"On My Own Time" is back in-person at the Everson Museum of Art after a two-year hiatus because of COVID-19.

When Keri White isn’t working as a dietician at St. Joseph’s Hospital, she’s in Bridgeport, New York snapping photos on her Canon DSLR. Photography was a hobby before COVID-19, one of the many crafts she dabbled in, but her passion for the art form grew during the pandemic while she had more free time on her hands.

Among her favorite spots to take pictures is a 10-minute drive away from her house, a swamp that’s placed near Oneida Lake. One day this year, White took out her camera and snapped it: a dragonfly resting peacefully on a branch. She then submitted it through CNY Art’s “On My Own Time” program, and now her photo, The Dragon’s Repose, will sit in the Everson Museum of Art for a little over a month.

After a two-year lapse from having the exhibit in person because of COVID-19, “On My Own Time” is back at the Everson from Oct. 6 to Nov. 11. Like the title hints at, the work in the exhibition is done by everyday people in the Syracuse area who do art in their own time. The program, which is now in its 49th year, allows employers to support and showcase their employees’ talents.

“Way back then the thought was to create more of a linkage between what was seen as two separate sectors: the business world and the arts world,” said Kara Greene, an administrative manager for CNY Arts who helps organize the event. “It was a way to encourage creativity and art making for everyone, not just people that are considered professional artists… It turned out to be something that uncovered hidden talent.”

Artwork at the
Eight employers participated in the "On My Own Time" exhibition this year.

Greene said “On My Own Time” is not a competition but a celebration of art. This year, eight employers became sponsors for the event and sent out calls to their employees to submit their work to the program.

For employees, creating art is a way to let loose and focus on another activity besides their daytime job. “It’s a different view,” White said. For Mark Teece, a SUNY ESF chemistry professor whose metal sculpture Colocasia spp. Food Insecurity I will be featured in the exhibit, creating art is another way to use his hands. When Teece isn’t in the lab, he’s firing up a forge at his house and smelting metal at 2,000 degrees to mold sculptures.

“Rather than watching football on TV, I spend my time doing creative things,” Teece said. “You need any bit of balance in life, having a creative outlet is a good thing to have.”

Everson Museum of Art
SUNY ESF professor Mark Teece molded his sculpture, “Colocasia spp. Food Insecurity I” during his free time.

Anyone who participates in “On My Own Time” shows their work in their workplace before it’s judged for the Everson. Teece said SUNY ESF hosted his sculpture and other art done by his colleagues for 10 days on the first floor of Moon Library, right by the entrance. Robin Woodson, an “On My Own Time” liaison for Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists, said her office cleared a conference room for employee art and brought in easels to display work.

In the past two years because of the pandemic, the exhibit has been virtual, but Greene said CNY Arts is glad to have “On My Own Time” back in person. She added her organization expects a “banner year” for its 50th anniversary next year.

After submitting work a number of times in the past, The Dragon’s Repose is White’s first piece to get a spot in the Everson. The dietician, and photographer, is excited to be at the reception on Thursday and have her art shown to museumgoers.

“I love to see how creative everyone is,” White said. “You just realize that there’s another whole depth to them — the side that you don’t see.”