Arts & CultureArts & Culture Features

Looking at Another City Through the Eyes of Art


Kristen Miller Zohn (l), former Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Columbus Museum, and René Shoemaker

When I was a librarian at the University of Georgia, I never considered myself a “teacher,” never wanted to stand in front of a classroom, and I never felt like I had much to impart to others in that environment. I liked doing the bookish things librarians do: activities that allowed me to be in a quiet place, working by myself, paying attention to the details of the work. 

Well! Now that my life revolves around artwork, my attitude has totally changed. I LOVE sharing the beauty of silk painting: the texture of the silk, the methods of mixing colors, the ways the designs come to life, full of beauty and impact. I love seeing what students create in the short time I have to work with them. I find that all of my students have their own distinct vision and talent. It’s delightful!

I recently taught a silk painting class at Columbus State University while I was in Columbus, GA conducting research for my upcoming exhibit at the Columbus Museum (which opens Aug. 23.)


Shoemaker is documenting Columbus scenes with her paintings on silk.

I had a fabulous time in Columbus—exploring the city, the river, the architecture, the urban spaces and the countryside, as well as meeting the wonderful people who live there (and who, I learned, are known as “Columbusites”).

Strolling the streets of downtown, discovering the walkability of the city, attending live music events at the performing-arts complex, walking to my studio in the CSU Art Department—the whole visit was one of grand discovery.

As I continue honing my art skills and exploring new places, I find beauty not only in the world around me but also in the people who generously share their stories with me. In doing so, they also share their lives, as we discuss methods for drawing ideas out of the imagination and visually preserving them on a white piece of silk.

As part of my week of research exploring the Chattahoochee Valley, I drove to Eufaula, AL and came back on the Alabama side of the river, so I could see what Georgia looked like from the other side. I rode my bicycle along the 14-mile Chattahoochee RiverWalk. I drove around the city to see what was beyond the downtown area, and I heard and watched the train sail through town at 4 p.m. each day and cross the Chattahoochee River headed west. I ate dinner numerous times in the homes of Columbus’ welcoming, generous residents. They treated me like royalty, and all these factors combined to make me a grand fan of Columbus.

Thank you, Columbus!