Artists unite to form CRAM Collective

Group’s works to go on exhibition with embroidery artist at Blue Moon Gallery in Grayslake

GRAYSLAKE – In January 2020, four artists known as the CRAM Collective – Crystal Marie (Gurnee), Rebecca Stahr (Grayslake), Amanda Jolley (Kansas City, Missouri), and Melissa Hall (Lexington, Kentucky) – gathered in one studio for a week to reignite their creative fires.

That week brought them more than just the annual dose of creative renewal they were seeking. It brought a bond that began as individual connections from their common artistic journeys that deepened into something each was reluctant to release as their retreat came to an end.

Their inaugural collection of works, a series called “Transcend:distance,” began as a way to remain creatively connected across the miles. As each artist returned to their homes, a round-robin of art making began. Little did they know that a worldwide pandemic was on its way and what began as a fun activity among friends soon would become a lifeline of connection through social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

Beginning with a blank panel, each artist created from their own style and then mailed it to the next artist in the collective. A new blank panel was begun with each round, but with each round the collection of works received from each other began to influence the materials, colors, themes and energy of the new works.

The result is a spectacular exhibition of more than 75 pieces of mixed media art showcasing an enormous web of creativity and connection that transcends the distance of heart, body and soul – a remarkable illustration of the interconnectedness that reaches across time to include the whole of all of mankind.

Blue Moon Gallery also will be featuring the needle-and-thread works of Grayslake artist Laura O’Connor in an exhibition titled “Embroidery as Testimony and Dissent.” O’Connor joins a long and strong tradition of women who have turned needlecraft into a vehicle for political expression and commentary on society.

The gallery is hosting an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 20 for patrons to visit the gallery, meet the artists and experience the arts. The event is free and open to the public. Masks are required.

“Transcend:distance” and “Embroidery as Testimony and Dissent” will be on view from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Jan. 2. (The gallery will be closed Dec. 25 and 26 and Jan. 1.)

The gallery is at 18620 Belvidere Road in Grayslake.

For information, call gallery director Kendra Kett at 224-388-7948 or visit