Art From The Ordinary Exhibit On Display In March At Lee Dam Center

Sara Russell is a serendipitist – she finds value in things others might discard. Throughout her life, she has serendipitously created art.

Russell will exhibit her art throughout the month of March at the Lee Dam Center for Fine Art, 201 South 9th, Marysville.

Her exhibition, Sarandipity, gives a nod to the word defined by Merriam-Webster, but with a whimsical twist added by Russell.

The exhibition opens Saturday, March 4, and runs through Thursday, March 30. The art center is open Sundays 12-3 p.m.; Tuesdays 4-6 p.m.; Thursdays 4-6 p.m.; and Saturdays 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

An artist reception will be Thursday, March 16, from 5-6:30 p.m. Refreshments will be provided by the members of the Preceptor Zeta chapter of Beta Sigma Phi.

The exhibition is a collection of artworks from Russellโ€™s imagination; she takes everyday items and reimagines the possibilities. Trinkets, mannequins and fabrics become pieces of art that repurpose the mundane into beauty.

โ€œI take ordinary items and turn them into art,โ€ she said. โ€œMost people throw this stuff away, but I see something in it.โ€

Her curiosity was piqued when she saw her grandparents create Christmas trees out of costume jewelry, an art fad dating back to the 1930s.

โ€œThatโ€™s where it started,โ€ Russell said. โ€œIt expanded from there.โ€

When she was at a beauty supply store, she found mannequin heads used for displays on sale.

โ€œI thought to myself, I can add jewelry and flowers to that,โ€ she said.

She has also made quilts out of T-shirts, ties and a variety of other materials. Her grandchildren have been the recipient of many of her artistic creations including jackets sheโ€™s painted.

Russell has always been a seamstress, a skill she uses in her art. She feels her claim to fame is making a gown for Miss Kansas and for Miss Teen Kansas.

When the Marysville Area Community Theatre put on their production of Oklahoma! in 1983, she helped sew the costumes.

โ€œIโ€™ve sewn my whole life,โ€ she said.

Now a house mom for the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity at the University of Kansas, Russell called Marysville home for many years. She and her husband raised their four children in Marysville, and all of them graduated from Marysville High School. Russellโ€™s children are Brad, Mike, Kate Barham and Kris Switzer.

โ€œAs long as I can remember, my mom has been creating,โ€ Switzer, the youngest of the four Russell children, said. โ€œWhen I was little, I remember coming downstairs late at night and she would be creating. Even today when I visit her, she has something new to show me.โ€

The exhibition, sponsored by the Marshall County Arts Cooperative, takes a retrospective look at Russellโ€™s diverse array of art.

More information may be found on the arts cooperativeโ€™s website,, or by calling 785-859-4260.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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