Students had the opportunity to view their professors artwork at The 2017 Visual Arts Faculty Exhibition at The Gallery starting on Aug. 30.
Photography and Digital Imaging Coordinator, Professor Michael Chovan-Dalton’s work is on display for the fourth time in the faculty art exhibit. The piece he chose to exhibit is called “Passaic River.” Like the majority of his work, he says the piece is inspired by a deep interest in infrastructure and how towns–which hold different socioeconomic statuses–have developed around things like canals and railroads.
“You have this one thing, like the Morris Canal, like the Passaic River, and yet it’s very different to very different communities, and it gets treated very differently…Sometimes [it’s used] out of necessity, sometimes out of recreation, sometimes they don’t notice it at all,” Professor Dalton told The VOICE.
Art Director at The Gallery and full-time Visual Arts Professor Lucas Kelly titled his piece “French Belts.” Kelly says that his art revolves around memory and how the loss of his father inspired him to dig for those memories that will eventually fade. French Belts connects very dearly to the narrative specific to that memory.
“What I try to do is make them ambiguous enough in form so that they are abstracted enough so that you can relate to them and piece together some sort of narrative of your own,” Kelly said.
Professor of Fine Art Kyle Stevenson says he felt it was important to take time out of class to allow his students to enjoy the exhibit and become engaged with artists they share the same hallways with. He says this can be less intimidated than going to a commercial art gallery.
“I think it’s helpful for students [in order] to get some experience attending an art reception, and to embrace an opportunity to see the artwork of the faculty that they might only know from the classroom,” Stevenson said.
One of Prof. Stevenson’s students, 3D Animation major Beatriz Gordillo says her favorite piece in the exhibit is Gate VII by Prof. Mircea Popescu.
“I just like the different strokes of paint layered on top of each other. You can tell they took their time and just went with it. It was very refreshing,” Gordillo said.
Mercer County locals attended The Gallery as well. Maryanne Palmieri and Tim Lawrence whose children attended Mercer 30 years ago, receive brochures in the mail every semester. While they have attended countless student exhibits, they said this is their first faculty show. Palmieri told The VOICE, her favorite piece an untitled photograph by Jared Kramer.
“This one is absolutely gorgeous. And I really couldn’t tell if it was a photograph or if it was drawn because there are little details that look like paint,” Palmieri said.
Lawrence said his favorite piece is Professor Dalton’s aforementioned Passaic River.
“I like the Passaic River photo because it reminds me of, if you have ever been to Grover’s Mill where they have the monument for the War of the World’s, the little pond there. It’s neat,” Lawrence said.
Professor Kelly became the director of the Gallery last semester. He says it is a two year position held by a faculty member in order to allow them to incorporate events and operations through The Gallery with the curriculum. He emphasizes the importance of rotating the position every 2 years.
“Having different people steer the gallery at different times allows for there to be different viewpoints, allows for us to have the gallery touch upon different elements that one director for a long time, wouldn’t do,” Kelly said.
Prof. Kelly has introduced is the Side Space gallery which allows student volunteers to gain hands-on experience curating their own shows in about a third of a space of the current gallery. The volunteers also have the opportunity to earn an internship at The Gallery in marketing and design positions.
Chris Dubois, currently studying Graphic Design at the School of Visual Arts in New York, was the first to receive that internship in 2014. Dubois is the designer of The Gallery logo hung in multiple colors in the hallway outside the exhibits.
Dubois told The VOICE: “I did not know I was the first intern. I assumed there were more…[It was] fun and challenging. I got to learn everything from hanging stuff to the publications.”
The 2017 Visual Arts Faculty Exhibit will be on display until Sept. 29.