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   from the issue of February 2, 2006

Attic remodel creates door to exhibition


Julia Lauer-Cheenne knew a century-old attic door would be useful someday.

ATTIC INSPIRATION - Julia Lauer-Cheenne sits in front of her Star Art entry,
 ATTIC INSPIRATION - Julia Lauer-Cheenne sits in front of her Star Art entry, "Star Door," on display in Von Maur at South Pointe Mall, 27th and Pine Lake Road. Lauer-Cheenne's design is two-sided, featuring a nocturnal motif (pictured) and the State Capitol - including a variety of vintage post cards from around Lincoln - on the other.

Saved from a home improvement project that transformed her attic into an art studio, Lauer-Cheenne stowed the door in a garage, waiting for inspiration to strike.

When she learned of the Lincoln YWCA'a Star Art project, Lauer-Cheenne knew it was time to dust off the portal.

"To me, the door represents a gateway to creative energy and the potential in my own home," said Lauer-Cheenne, an English lecturer. "Using it in a community art project sponsored by the YWCA seemed appropriate.

"Their work provides opportunity for many women. And doors are opportunity, thresholds to adventure, risk taking and a new future."

Lauer-Cheenne's journey into the art world began in the early 1980s, as she helped teach English to teens in France. Separated from her husband - a Frenchman who was working in Lincoln at the time - Lauer-Cheenne picked up an inexpensive camera and spent free time wandering the countryside.

"I started taking photos out of boredom," she said. "I would take all kinds of photos, then cut them up for collages. That's when I got really interested and began wanting to take better photographs."

Lauer-Cheenne continued to snap pictures and create collages when she returned to Nebraska, picking up a better camera and proper lessons from a variety of collegiate instructors. Her talent has expanded into painting, and her resume includes four solo shows and a numerous individual entries into exhibitions across the nation.

However, the YWCA's Star Art project marks the first time Lauer-Cheenne has a 3-dimensional sculpture on public display.

"I knew how I wanted to design the door, but I knew it would also be a challenge," Lauer-Cheenne said. "This type of project is something I've never done before."

The work proved to be a learning process. From initial designs, a scale miniature took on the appearance of a complete, useable doorframe, including a small staircase to the threshold. However, construction of the full-sized sculpture was too complex and Lauer-Cheenne opted for a simpler platform fixed to the door.

STAR CITY - "Star Door" includes a side dedicated to images of Lincoln, including the Capitol.


The actual decoration of the door stayed true to the original plan.

On one side - which Lauer-Cheenne describes as "nocturnal" - the design is highlighted by three shades of dark blue, inspired by the surrealist painter René Magritte. The nocturnal side is embellished with stars., the majority of are laser-cut from stainless steel (providing a mirror effect for those who confront the door); others are recreations of an art-deco design.

The other side is adorned with a hand-painted rendition of the State Capitol, surrounded by a variety of vintage postcards showcasing Lincoln.

"The two sides represent where we live and who we are," Lauer-Cheenne said of her design. "They symbolize how we pass from one environment to the other every day, whether we do it decisively or with apprehension."

The design, titled "Star Door" is one of 96 currently on display across Lincoln, Lauer-Cheenne's sculpture is located at Von Maur at South Pointe Pavilion, 27th Street and Pine Lake Road. It will be on display until auctioned off April 28.

"When I entered into this project, I just wanted to do something different," Lauer-Chennee said. "Going through the process was a great opportunity.

"And, my only hope is that 'Star Door' provides some inspiration and gets people thinking about Lincoln and how it belongs to all of us."

Personally, the design has inspired Lauer-Cheenne, who is already planning a second portal-inspired design.

"I do have another door in my garage," Lauer-Cheenne said.

The 2006 Star City Art Project is sponsored by the Lincoln YWCA.

The public art project features 69 sculptures featuring the "star art" theme. The exhibition - with pieces located all over the city - includes a variety of media, including steel, wood stained glass, photographs and quilts.

The Star Art project was designed to share the spirit of hope with the community, while rasing funds for YWCA programs and expenses through an April 28 auction of the sculptures at Pershing Center.

The artworks are on display through April. More information and images of all the entries are available online at



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