Faculty and alumni exhibit unusual combinations



Students, faculties and staff looking at art works during the reception of Annual Faculty and Alumni Art Exhibit on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

The art galleries of Allegheny College held the reception of Annual Faculty and Alumni Art Exhibit on Tuesday, Nov. 4. The exhibit featured egg tempera, oil and watercolor paintings by alumnus Jeff Gola, ’82, and also included art works of Sue Buck, Heather Brand, Amara Geffen, Darren Lee Miller, Steve Prince, Byron Rich, Richard Schindler and Ian Thomas from department of art, as well as Cheryl Hatch, visiting assistant professor of journalism in the public interest and Mike Keeley, professor of communication arts.

“It’s always a challenge to figure out how pieces relate to each other, but we worked together as a group to find a good visual presentation so that one body of work by one person would flow in a logical way to another body of work,” said Darren Lee Miller, assistant professor of art and gallery director of Allegheny College. Each artist has different styles and ideas at work in different media. Considering this, Miller tried to make sense of organizing the gallery and locating drawings, paintings, printmaking, photographs and sculptures harmoniously in the gallery.

The reception started at 7 p.m. with a presentation by Jeff Gola, a graduate of class of 1982 at Allegheny College. Growing up on his family farm in New Jersey, Gola was interested in both art and the sciences. He came to Allegheny originally aiming to study medical illustration. He then went to study at the Tyler School of Art in Rome, Italy during his junior year. After graduating, he started doing oil and watercolor paintings, and became more involved in his local art community, which had a “traditional aesthetic” that attracted Gola.

“I’d like to combine the traditional picturesque aesthetics with contemporary ordinary subjects that are transformed by the quality of light and personal associations I have with them,” said Gola. “I’d like to do a lot of winter paintings and snow in particular. Snow definitely has that picturesque sentimental nostalgic quality, which I kind of like. But I also like contrasting it with the greatness of everyday subjects. ”

Gola is now working regularly with egg tempera, a stable, long-lasting, fast-drying painting medium that uses the yolk of an egg mixed with water. “I like that it’s a linear medium that holds the detail well and I very much like its clarity of colors, especially how it handles the earth colors,” said Gola.

After the presentation, the artists and their audience moved to the gallery, looking at the art works and talking with each other.

“It’s nice seeing how my particular art fits into what people are doing here. It’s a very rewarding thing,” said Gola, who said he was impressed by the exhibit.

Presented separately in an exhibition room of the gallery, Miller’s photography project worked to talk about non-normative sexual behavior and negotiating power and relationships. Since the summer of 2013, Miller has been working at the Baldwin Reynolds House Museum in Meadville, which was originally a mansion.

“I am really interested in how we depict power. The reason why interior spaces are designed that way is because the people who own the space want to communicate something specific about their social class. So I am interested in working in that particular interior, because I think that element of class is always present in the photograph. And gender and social class are both things we can perform, and then we can create an image of ourselves for ourselves and for other people to see,” said Miller.

Students gave high praise to the exhibit during it’s opening reception. Jonathan Yee, ’17, emphasized the how important it is for faculty to showcase their own work in an open space for the students and the public to see what they are working on.

“I really enjoy Cheryl Hatch’s photography and it makes me realize how journalism can also be an art. I also enjoy Amara Geffen’s work. I like her use of found items, and how she transforms them into something different, into something new,” said Yee.

Although she is currently on sabbatical, Sue Buck showed her selected drawings in the gallery as well, which attracted her former students to the exhibit.

“I had for Sue Buck several semesters, so it was nice seeing her again,” said Lakiea Simmons, ’16, an art minor. “I draw too and I use the same medium she does, so I really appreciate her skill level and the way she layers and colors. And it evokes so much emotion,” said Simmons.

The exhibit is free and open to the public from Nov. 4 to Nov. 25.