The opening evening of the Faculty Exhibition, Oct. 24, was dreary, so it was a relief to duck out of the rain into Harrigan Hall to relax and enjoy some art. I was welcomed by several faculty offering me juice and snacks, which I munched on as I looked at the pieces. Seeing the work of faculty members, including professors with whom I’ve had classes, was interesting as I had never seen their work before, and they have had many more years of experience than the students who display their art in most galleries here on campus.
The first piece to catch my eye was a massive landscape by Kari Friestad (Assistant Professor of Drawing and Painting) called “Imaginary Skies,” which portrays a hazy pink sky with light reflecting vividly off of clouds at eye level. Friestad writes of this piece, “I base the imagery of these paintings on remembered landscapes while focusing on the language of painting that can be found in mark-making, texture and layering.”
Next I saw a series of pen drawings of a ceramic architectural model shrine from an excavation site in Jordan, rendered by Stefanie Elkins (Associate Professor of Art and Art History). The largest of the pieces shows the model from the front with meticulous stippling showing cracks and details illustrating the iron age object as it appears today. The artist’s statement accompanying the piece says “Model shrines typically mimicked buildings and temples in miniature and were often embellished with iconographic imagery.” This model shrine is very small, only around 30 centimeters high, but it is guarded by two figures nearly as tall as the shrine itself.
On the opposite wall, a collection of four paintings commanded the visitors’ attention, all consisting of curved layers of rich browns, oranges and yellows with a few blues and grays intermixed for contrast. The artist, Greg Constantine (Emeritus Research Professor of Art), says that he was inspired by a massive rock formation in Cody Wyoming, the arcs of colors mimicking layers of rock.
A collection of screen prints produced by Diane Myers (Assistant Professor of Graphic Design and Digital Media) during a workshop by House Industries at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation pulled me in. Myers explains in her statement, “House Industries has been a standard-bearer for American graphic design for 25 years.” She goes on to list several collaborators that House has worked with, such as Jimmy Kimmel, The New Yorker and John Mayer. The crisp lines, eclectic fonts and repeated shapes and patterns evoke a modern take on vintage type and design.
The remainder of the gallery is occupied by several series of photos. The first two large prints are sweeping landscapes of Iceland taken by Sharon Prest (Associate Professor of Photography and Digital Media) and Marc Ullom (Associate Professor of Photography), portraying strong rock formations and sweeping clouds. Last but not least is a series of black and white images by David Sherwin (Assistant Professor of Photography). The pictures portray people in busy city environments, some smiling directly at the camera, others busy with their work, and yet others glancing casually past the camera.
The Art Gallery at Harrigan Hall was, as always, a very pleasant experience, and while student exhibitions are engaging in their own right, it’s amazing to see the work of faculty who have had so many more years of experience. The mixture of graphic design, photography and fine arts I saw in this exhibition is proof of the quality of Andrews University’s visual art and design faculty.