Gallery provides eclectic art
Materials used represent staff, faculty vision
Published: Friday, February 14, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 14, 2014 13:02
“We are here, whether paid or unpaid, because we believe that art is important and that nurturing the making and appreciation of art in others is essential, ennobling and, quite honestly, a lot of fun.”
Speaking on the importance and rewarding nature of art education, part-time photography professor Dana Davis used these words to describe the motivations of those in the art department responsible for last month’s gallery exhibit.
The Faculty and Volunteer Staff Show, an exhibition of artwork created by either part-time art professors or unpaid volunteer staff members, was on display from the first day of the semester up until last Friday.
Davis said there was an equal balance of faculty and volunteer submissions in the show and that the gallery was very eclectic overall.
“The gallery shows a lot of diversity,” Davis said. “The work of the volunteers really speaks for itself — they are very much their own artists. Their work doesn’t necessarily reflect their instructor’s work.”
Often times, volunteer staff are students who have taken the maximum number of units available in their area of concentration and therefore sign on as an unpaid volunteer to assist professors in teaching that art or trade while they continue to practice themselves.
The works within the gallery presented a wide variety of media and materials, ranging from pastel, acrylic and oil paints to ink and enlarged prints of digital photography, on materials varying from paper to wood panels and ceramic tiles.
There were also various ceramics and sculptures on display, including bowls, vases and a clay horse bust. Titled “The Year of the Horse,” the detailed sculpture was submitted by fine arts professor Jiajun Lu, who said he selected it because this is the Year of the Horse according to the Chinese zodiac.
Lu, who was excited to see the works of his colleagues on display, said the art department holds faculty and volunteer staff shows every year. It serves to show students what sort of artwork is being created in the department and hopefully inspire them to take an art class, he said.
“We want to get students thinking creatively,” Davis said. “They can bring something to the party that is this department.”
Health and human services major Delton Marbray said, “You don’t have to ask what the artist is doing because the art tells a story. Art opens up your mind and your heart. You’re never too old to take an art class.”
Unfortunately, the art department is a bit under used these days, Davis said.
“When the economy picked back up, a lot of students went back to work,” he said. “I keep on top of my students and, most of the time, if they don’t make it to class it’s because they’re working.”
Due to a lack of funding, among other reasons, the department chose not to hold a reception for the exhibit. So far, instructors have been paying out-of-pocket for department needs, so they did not have a reception for purposes of saving money, he said.
Lu also said that low enrollment in certain art classes, coupled with the gallery opening so early in the semester, fed an uncertainty as to whether there would be a large enough turnout at the reception.
Human services department chairperson and professor Aminta Mickles took her Tuesday night Multicultural Issues in Human Services class to the gallery because she heard it was diverse, plus wanted to give her students the chance to see more of the campus.
“Often times students taking night classes don’t get to see the whole campus. It was also an opportunity to see diverse art for free,” she said.
Health and human services student Mark Thompson said that one particular painting stood out to him — an untitled painting by part-time hot metals jewelry professor Wendy McDermott that depicts a younger person partially veiled in shadows.
“I can relate to that,” Thompson said. “A lot of the time we are just standing in the shadows, not letting people get a view of who we really are.”
The Faculty and Volunteer Staff Show was taken down Friday in order to free the gallery for its next exhibit, which opened yesterday. The new exhibit, though its reception has passed, will be on display all of February in the Rhodes Gallery.