Mercer University’s Art Department annually hosts their Faculty Art Show at the beginning of each Fall semester. This year’s show had its reception on Aug 28 in the newly named Frances Sewell Plunkett Gallery in Hardman Hall.
Dr. Beth Stewart featured three of her works in the show: a 24-color reduction woodcut, a painting, and a drawing. She explained that she is interested in questions about perception as well as light, reflection and refraction. In the woodcut print, entitled “The Ponte Vecchio Mirrored in the Rippling Arno,” she focused on reflections in water. She used the balance of wood and ink with the gouge cuts to create the image. Her painting also expresses perception through the depiction of reflections on the water. In the drawing, entitled “A Twig-Being-Looked-At,” she utilized three different light sources: sunlight through the window and two light bulbs of different brightnesses, revealing interweaving shadows.
Dr. Craig Coleman exhibited two different works in the gallery. One was an untitled work with a modified slide projector, from which he hacksawed, removed pieces, and added an LED. In the projection, an image of a plastic bear rotated continuously. The projected light behind the bear appeared in tiny fragmented circles, distorting the viewer’s perception of the image projection.
Coleman has been conducting investigations with this kind of work concerning the qualities and aesthetics of light. His other works were digital photography prints of LEDs. He explained that he took off the lens of his 35 mm digital camera, and put a magnifying glass on the lens. He moved the magnifying glass until he got the particular abstract shape that he wanted, and took photographs of the LEDs. In his creation titled “Queen,” he made a mirror image of the photograph, revealing a figure-like shape in the middle. In “Iterations,” he used a similar process but instead, he cut the image in half from top to bottom and flipped it to create the effect.
Dr. Gary Blackburn utilized clay, wood, and metal for his pieces. The sculptures he displayed were the first of a series of five crow-themed pieces made with painted terra cotta clay. He explained that crows have their own kind of funerals; he once observed a “crow funeral” in his yard and was inspired to recreate the sentiment in his displays. His work depicts a crow dressed formally for a funeral and other crow “characters” dressed both formally and informally. Blackburn says that he has done work featuring crows, coyotes, and rabbits for almost thirty years.
Eric O’Dell and Steve Simmerman, two of the newest additions to the Art Department faculty, also contributed personal pieces to the faculty art show. Mr. O’Dell presented a piece that reflected his current painting style. His pieces vary in size and many of them, including the current one on display, were created this year. The passing of his mother last year influenced what he has been painting lately. He notes that “Last Year’s Lessons” reflects the relationship to music. In the piece, there are words and references to a song that is associated with his mother’s passing. He remarked that he feels lucky to be able to come back as a new full-time professor especially since he was a student at Mercer and was taught by these professors.
Mr. Simmerman presented three works inspired by the life of his grandfather. His grandfather was a farmer and passed away about thirty years ago. Simmerman created this series as a tribute to his passing. He began with sketches of his grandfather varying in ages. Simmerman then used a journal that once belonged to his grandfather as a field notebook. He combined the words with the images in the displayed mixed-media pieces. The works displayed showed three different times in his grandfather’s life: one when he was a soldier around the age of eighteen, and the others when he was in his sixties and seventies. The works are entitled “A Grandpa Series” and he displayed “No 1- Raconteur,” “No 2- Seed and Tweed,” and “No 3- Armistice Almanac.”