By Erica Fugger
“Art inspires art.” Since the advent of humanity’s creative chapter, such a statement has surely been accurate. Mankind is both individually based and collectively driven. We each inspire the other, while making the end result our own.
Perhaps with such truths in mind, the Union College’s Visual Arts Department premiered its Winter 2012 faculty art exhibition last Thursday in the Nott Memorial. According to the exhibit catalogue, a culmination of work of this nature had not been collected and displayed on campus since the spring of 1975.With the intention of both showcasing the creations of the talented campus faculty and serving to inspire creative exchanges with aspiring young artists, “Art Inspires Art” saw quite a sizeable turnout at its January premiere.
But the direct interaction between students and faculty in this case was not reserved solely for the opening reception of the gallery. Interim Director and Curator of the Permanent Collection, Marie Costello, set into motion a series of interviews with the faculty artists on campus, each carried out by a Union student of their choice.
Among those individuals was Sheri Park ’13, whose experience as an art major has included work with digital arts professor Fernando Orellana. At the show opening, Park described the experience of engaging in the project, “I was a little intimidated by the idea at first, but I ended up really enjoying the process of thinking up questions. It would be great if they did something like this every year.”
Orellana’s Paradiso includes figurines filmed on live camera, their movements and questions aloud randomly generated through pre-programming. The boy, girl and spaceman figures are described by Orellana as, “An allegory for God and the characters of Paradiso, and a reflection on contemporary society in which everything is about television.”
To highlight the very diverse, yet intertwined nature of the show, Senior Artist-in-Residence Sarah Wimer has newly acquired her own knack for the digital image. A traditional printmaker by trade, Wimer usually tends to produce art swathed in tradition, but felt drawn to include digital form after being inspired by the knowledge of her students. Prints like Girl Talk incorporate both image and text, while also serving to convey memories from childhood through both mediums.
Despite Martin Benjamin’s location abroad in Vietnam this past fall, the inclusion of his photographs came overseas. Examining his previously unprinted black-and-white contact sheets from his last trip to Vietnam, Benjamin picked about a dozen of his best prints to become his presence in the exhibition. The showing gave a different tone to that of his fully color display of Bull’s Eye last spring.
Walter Hatke’s contributions ranged from oil paintings on linen to the inclusion of charcoal gouging. His focus of subject encompasses familiar landmarks, ranging from Hale House’s spiral staricase to a beech tree on campus he has watched change over time. The continuously evolving nature of Hatke’s work is also highlighted in this showing.
Charles Steckler’s Hanukkah Begins at Sundown not only includes more traditional mediums, but also showcases more unique attributes. While ballpoint pen and pencil are often utilized, white out and highlighter are also found in the piece, as well as the stickers supplied by both Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples. Most stunningly, the piece speaks both to the appeal of intricate sketches and a more simple appreciation for its relatable origins on a monthly calendar.
Finally, Chris Duncan’s painted steel sculptures, as well as the mixed media creation of Blue Palace, complement the show as a whole. With inclusion of magazine images and even a road map, the complexity of this later piece at once draws you to examine its specific details, while also forcing the viewer to take a step back and observe the larger picture.
Most emphatically, the exhibition not only shows off the multifaceted talent of the Union College Visual Arts Department, but also allows for a means of discussion, contemplation and inspiration. It is with this idea that the showing encourages the larger campus community to become a very part of this same creative force.
“Art Inspires Art” is open to the public in the Mandeville Gallery of the Nott Memorial through Feb. 22.