Story by Yashowanto Ghosh, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy Yashowanto Ghosh
The Aquinas College Art Department’s faculty exhibition of the academic year 2019–2020, featuring 22 pieces by six art professors, opened at the Art & Music Center Gallery with a reception on Sunday, January 9.
It was the first weekend of the new semester, there was a forecast of lake effect snow, and the next day’s classes were canceled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, yet there was a large and lively crowd at the reception. The gallery space was loud with the enthusiasm of people who had obviously come with high expectations and were thrilled with what they found.
The pieces in the show are all brand new. In fact, one of Professor Chris LaPorte’s two drawings is a preliminary step for a drawing that is yet to be unveiled—it is a scene with two human figures in Frederick Meijer Gardens, and the title identifies it as a study for an atrium drawing. LaPorte’s other drawing in the show is a family portrait of alumna Linda Nemec Foster’s paternal grandparents and their children. Foster was present at the exhibition telling the story of the people in the drawing.
Professor Dana Freeman’s work in the show features repurposed glass, with glassware placed in unexpected arrangements and combined with other objects. My favorite piece combines glass with two other groups of objects: teacups with botanical patterns below the glass, and photographs of carnivorous plants inside the glass. The pieces themselves are fascinatingly unreal, but I had also seen Freeman working on her pieces when I hung out in the ceramics studio for part of the Christmas vacation. I experienced a whole other dimension of the work—the closure you get from seeing a finished piece when you had already seen it in progress before.
I had the same sense of closure from seeing Professor Nate Lareau’s piece Microtones, the only interactive piece in the show—I had been in the studio when Lareau was building and tuning it. It is a stringed piece whose strings change pitch when a heavy steel bar rolls on them. Once the bar is in motion it keeps rolling back and forth along the length of the piece for a long time, and you can stand there for a long time picking the strings. Lareau’s other piece in the show, a video with title Stolen Train, is based on a spinning image. It too meets you at your ears, but at your sense of physical balance rather than at your sense of hearing.
Professor Madeline Kaczmarcyk’s ceramic pieces have forms that evoke an overpowering sense of nostalgia. And their surface decoration that evokes a deep sense of awe, because Kaczmarcyk uses tiny beads of colored glass to cover her pieces—a few seconds into looking at one of her teapots or wall vases, the realization suddenly hits you that the artist must have attached each one of the thousands of beads with intent, and then you see the true dimensions of the piece.
The show features paintings by two artists working in different mediums: a graphical painting with a human figure, titled Jackson, by Professor Danna Fuller, and five oil paintings by Professor Sharon Sandberg. Two companion pieces pointedly titled Glass Ink Well with Poppy Flower and Glass Ink Well with Paper Poppy Flower make you face questions about the very nature of representative art, and another piece with title Paper Bouquet continues that discussion.
The gallery is open every week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays, and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The show ends on Valentine’s Day, but the following Thursday (February 20) will see the opening of the show featuring work by students in the art program, with a reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.