The Martha Gault Art Gallery hosts the SRU Art Department Faculty Exhibition every four or five years as a way to show the faculty artwork to a new cycle of students. This duration of time allows for a new group of students from freshman to senior level to experience their professor’s artworks in the local gallery.
The 2023 exhibition lasted from Feb. 7 until March 3. It included artwork of all types, including ceramics, drawings, digital art, fiber arts, metals, photography and more.
There is no theme to the exhibition, but faculty members were encouraged to submit their more recent artwork. Despite this lack of theme, the installations still come together.
“[An interesting thing about] the exhibition is that it came together visually, so tightly and there’s so many common threads,” Thersea Antonellis, instructor and director of Martha Gault Art Gallery said. “In terms of design elements and colors, there’s a lot of neutrals as well as high key reds, blues and greens.”
Not being confined by a theme helps the faculty, who work at such a high level. It makes room for comfort without having to worry about fulfilling a category, according to Antonellis.
Although the art faculty works at this high level, they are still learning every day in their classrooms, pushing them further as artists.
“Watching students and observing how they think helps my own observation, my own sketches and [everything] that develops into my own art,” Barbara Westman, professor of art with a focus in printmaking and fiber art, said. “I guess when it comes down to it, we are permanently submerged in [art].”
Westman’s piece for the exhibition was a large fabric piece with red thread throughout titled “365.” Her artist statement reads that she “[documents] a year using the symbolic red thread. The line may be straight and taut as I am doing fine, feel energized and accomplished.”
She continues, “Some other days the thread may be tangled, messy or broken as I am struggling, feeling anxious, tired and withdrawn.”
Her inspiration comes from her daily life and experiences, specifically in relation to teaching.
“This job is very absorbing and it absorbs your whole body, your emotion, your heart [and] everything,” Westman said. “There’s a lot of things that happen during the day and how do you illustrate that? [My] idea was to show it through just a red line.”
A particularly eye catching sculpture was a realistically painted body underneath a duvet with small red figurines sat in the back of the art gallery. Assistant art professor Emily Elliott created the piece.
In her written artists statement she states that mold making and life-casting, which is done in this piece, is a “meditative vehicle for exploring fear, identity and anxiety. It began as a way to reconcile past trauma with functioning in daily life.”
“I think students really reacted positively to this because it’s funny, scary and creepy,” Antonellis said. “It reminds me of the horror film genre in the way that we see that things are funny and creepy at the same time.”
There were multiple other faculty pieces in the exhibition, all showcasing the multiple talents within the art department.
The Martha Gault Art Gallery is currently presenting the Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition which began showing on March 6 and will continue through April 5. The closing reception will take place April 5 from 5-7 p.m.