FARMINGTON – A visiting artist has begun construction of a public work of art at the University of Maine at Farmington Art Gallery.

Sallie McCorkle, a professor of art at Oklahoma State University, is known for her multidimensional exhibits that incorporate local cultural themes of the site.

Her public works are displayed in communities across the United States and Europe, ranging in subject matter from “Remembering September 11th” to “The Barn-Raising.”

Not even the faculty and staff involved in the project, however, know what to expect from the month-long exhibit in downtown Farmington. The exhibit could spill out into the courtyard, or it may hang from the windows of the building, said Elizabeth Olbert, director of the gallery.

“It’s a big mystery,” she said.

McCorkle, who also is director of the Doel Reed Center for the Arts at her university, started the project Sunday. Early clues to her final vision include fencing supplies, 20 chairs and attention to the agricultural culture of Franklin County.

She will continue to work on the exhibit daily through Thursday, and the community is encouraged to visit and watch as the project unfolds, Olbert said.

This exhibit is part of the gallery’s stated mission to bring contemporary art to the region. At least two visiting artists are invited to hold exhibits at the gallery each year, and the shows are free and open to the public.

Despite the annual exhibits, many students and local residents are unaware of the contemporary art scene in their own community, Olbert said. “A lot of people don’t even know the art gallery is here,” she said.

She hopes McCorkle’s inclusive approach to public exhibits, inviting people to observe and get involved in the process, will spark the community’s interest.

Katy Rebmann, 25, a junior, is heading up a team of student assistants. She is looking at this experience as a rare opportunity to be part of the artistic process.

“How often do you get to be right there — to be part of something like this?” Rebmann said.

The gallery is in downtown Farmington at 246 Main St., behind the Admissions Office on campus.

The opening reception is 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, with a gallery talk by the artist. The exhibit will run through Nov. 7.