From Classroom to Practice: Inspiring Artists

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by Quille Chayes, ‘12

exhibits---Bradley-Peters.jpgIn addition to the natural scenery, the Simon’s Rock campus has another aesthetic advantage: gorgeous art featured throughout the College, the Library Atrium gallery that students pass through every day on their way to meet tutors in the Writing Center, the Hillman-Jackson Gallery in the lower lobby of the Daniel Arts Center, and many other indoor and outdoor installations.

The art at Simon’s Rock enlivens the campus, exposing the whole community to different media. Margaret Cherin, Exhibitions Curator and College Archivist sums it up elegantly: “To have a resource on campus where students can come to view and appreciate the creations of outside artists, their teachers, and their peers is essential to making the study of the arts come alive. It is akin to creating live theater and live music on campus: it takes the theory from the classroom to practice.”

exhibits--student-work-(2).jpgThe Exhibitions Program has been around since the college began. “The mission of our current program is three-fold,” Margaret explains. “To expose students to current professional artists in all mediums, to highlight the professional work of our arts faculty, and to showcase extraordinary student work through thesis exhibitions and a juried student show.”

Art student Erin Shea ’12 appreciates the constant source of inspiration she sees around her. “It’s really great to see art on campus because you never know if after you graduate it’s going to be your art,” she says.

exhibits--student-work-(1).jpgOftentimes, art on campus is interactive; artists will come in and talk about their work through the Visiting Artists Program, or special exhibitions like the recent “Visual Syncopation,” by local artists, visual artist, poet, and writer John Lawson. The exhibit, full of brightly-colored abstract portraits featuring Lawson’s signature style of beaded work and assemblage, is still on view in the Hillman-Jackson Gallery.

The guest-artist aspect of the exhibition program complements current courses or brings new ideas for students to consider. Margaret worked with faculty member Ben Krupka a few years ago to bring over 20 different ceramicists, in a spectrum of techniques and styles, to Simon’s Rock. For most of Ben's students it was their first exposure to professional ceramic arts.

Directly seeing the work of our teachers can be a big inspiration to students—they are already people whom we look up to greatly, but seeing their work in a professional context helps remind us that they really do have practical experience in what they are teaching us.

Current exhibitions include “Protection-Communication,” by Ben Krupka, developed during his sabbatical at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, in Helena, Montana. Ben spent last year surrounded by a handful of other artists, focusing specifically on his work. The resulting collection of pottery “departs from the [practical] vessel and explores ideas of strength, fragility, protection, communication and autobiographical narrative ...”

photo-exhibit.jpgThis year, the Arts Division kicked off the First Annual Juried Art Show. A call for entries went out to the entire student body last month for anything from paintings and drawings to ceramics, sculptures, photography and videos. All entries must be submitted with a brief application by Sunday, April 28th by 8pm.

For many students, this represents a remarkable opportunity to exhibit their work in the Hillman-Jackson Gallery at the Daniel Arts Center from May 1st through graduation on Sunday, May 18th. The works will be selected on Monday, April 29th by juror Gabrielle Senza, a local artist/art activist (www.gabriellesenza.com). Students can also win in categories of the “Outstanding Achievement Prize” and the “Faculty Prize.”

The Juried Art Show allows students to concentrate on works more broadly than a class assignment. “With this new art show, we have the opportunity to show our accomplishments before we graduate!” says art student Erin.

Margaret adds, “This motivation and inspiration could be a really positive experience for the students, because the show recognizes outstanding and talented student work that normally would not be seen in any kind of public venue.”