At first glance, Hillsboro Emprise Bank looks just like any other businesses of its kind. But upon closer inspection, like its branches, Emprise paints a different picture for its customers.
Peppered along its walls, offices and common areas are pieces from the Art of Emprise, a growing collection of mostly Kansas-based artists.
Employees and customers alike have enjoyed the recently acquired art, including three pieces from local Tabor College professor, Shin-Hee Chin. The largest of Chin?s pieces, a fiber hanging titled ?People of the Wind,? hangs just to the side of the business?s main entrance.
Brad Bartel, Hillsboro Emprise vice president and branch manager, said since the art was hung Dec. 8, customers have recognized and appreciated the local connection.
?They are just thoroughly impressed with the detail and how it communicates,? Bartel said.
Detail is clearly a strong point for the assistant professor for art and graphic design. Her work, which can be viewed at shinheechin.com/work.html, has received many awards and has been in a number of exhibitions over the years.
She often uses wool, fiber and string to make a variety of pieces including fiber art and mixed media.
Using the resources that are negatively associated with female labor, Chin?s goal is to reverse these biases and uphold their work.
?I attempt to carve out what I proudly call feminine territory in which the voices of effaced and silenced women reverberate, and to translate the experiences of women in a way that people of different ethnic backgrounds and cultural experiences can understand and sympathize,? she said on her Web site.
Chin is one of 15 artists represented at Hillsboro?s Emprise Bank. There are 21 pieces hung on the walls, including watercolor, pastel, oil, crayon, charcoal and photography.
All were purchased by Mike Michaelis, chairman of the Emprise Banks. His personal interest in art has overflowed to his work life, where he has purchased more than 1,500 pieces for the Art of Emprise collection.
Michaelis has gone to numerous art galleries to purchase pieces for the collection, which are then distributed to the various Emprise branches.
On one such visit, he met Chin and saw her work at the Fiber Studio on South Com?merce in Wichita. He also noted Chin?s attention to detail.
?Her work is unique from other kinds you see, and I enjoy finding art like that,? he said. ?It is very personal to her and family oriented.
?She is also nice, humble and couldn?t have been more gracious to my wife and myself.?
Michaelis said he was impressed with all of Chin?s work but enjoyed three in particular, which now hang in Hillsboro?s bank. He specifically chose them because of the Tabor connection and desired ?People of the Wind??to be featured in the lobby.
The employees were then given freedom to hang the rest of their Art of Emprise pieces wherever they wished.
Michaelis is always in charge of what art is distributed to which branch. This is to ensure that there is a diversity of styles at each location.
Bartel said this exposes the employees to a variety of styles and allows them to recognize that not everybody has the same tastes.
?The discussions that have come from that have been very interesting, probably unique to our workplace,? he said.
This also is true for their interaction with customers. Their new decor has become an excellent conversation piece.
?We?re strongly encouraging people to walk around with us and look at the art because we?re so excited about it,? Bartel said.
Anyone is welcome to take a short tour during regular lobby hours.
?People are glad they did,? he said. ?Most don?t consider themselves art people, so when we get them to be open to looking, in every case, it causes discussion and it?s exactly what art is supposed to do.?