New faculty hold panel to share about their work

January 17th, 2013 Comments Off on New faculty hold panel to share about their work

On January 16, the four new faculty members in the Department of Art participated in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ben Harvey. Adrienne Callander, Neil Callander, Gregory Martin and Suzanne Powney each briefly discussed their work before the floor was opened up for questions. According to Lori Neuenfeldt, programs coordinator for the Visual Arts Center Gallery, the panel was set up as a way for students and current faculty to meet the new faculty and learn about their work.

Harvey said he has had a chance to view his new colleagues’ work in the gallery in McComas Hall, which will be up until February 23.

“We are lucky to have this kind of talent in Starkville,” he said, before introducing the first new faculty member, Adrienne Callander.

Adrienne Callander
Callander holds a Master of Fine Arts from Rutgers University and is the Department of Art’s most recent hire as a lecturer in 2D Design and Art Appreciation. She described her current body of work, “Ball Series,” to involve a conversation with the people she receives the materials from.

“I remember how it all began,” she said. She first got the idea for this while in graduate school at Rutgers. When observing a painting of a sweater, she thought about how it was really a 3D drawing and, “in theory, you should be able to deconstruct it,” she said.

Now, 21 deconstructed sweaters later, Callander joked, “If you bring me a sweater, I’ll add it.”

Callander even deconstructed a friend’s entire sea foam halter wedding dress.

“That was complicated because this was something of great value to her; I didn’t want to disappoint her,” she said. “The piece itself is an action. I received the dress. I altered it, and I’m going to send it back to her.”

Other pieces in Callander’s “Ball Series” include a piece that honors her father, who passed away in 2007, and a piece she explained to be her conversation with painting ­– her mother was a painter, and she is married to a painter.

Neil Callander
Next, Callander’s “painter” husband, Neil Callander, was introduced. Neil Callander also holds an MFA from Rutgers University and is the Foundations Coordinator for the Department of Art. His current body of work revolves around a fictional character, “Dusty,” as imagined by his now-six-year-old son when he was two.

The paintings are done from direct observation in his studio. Neil Callander said he is unapologetically still life painting.

He said if you remove the cliché fruits and vases from still life and think about “what’s possible when you set up anything in the world and freeze it, I don’t see it as boring at all but full of potential.”

Neil Callander tries to set up items in the studio quickly, so they look like they are pulled from someone’s life.

“They exist naturally in the world of Dusty, and I recreate them in the studio.”

The artist described his paintings to be like “choose-your-own-adventure books” in that “you can go back to them, and they constantly reveal themselves in different ways.” He showed a zoomed-in image of one of his paintings to further illustrate this thought, and explained that perceptions may change based on one’s mood, the time of day and/or the lighting.

Neil Callander ended his lecture by telling about how a colleague once reacted to one of his paintings by telling him it made her want to throw up.

“I took it as one of the best compliments that I could imagine – that a painting could have that sort of reaction!”

Gregory Martin
Gregory Martin said Neil Callander’s work hasn’t had that kind of reaction, yet, for him.

“But I’ll give it a chance and see how it goes,” he joked.

Martin, who was born and raised in southern California, recently drove 2,000 miles from Venice, Calif., to start a position as assistant professor of Drawing and Design at MSU. He holds an MFA from Claremont Graduate School.

“The disconnect and relationship between people’s ideals and the reality they live” is a major theme in his work.

Martin described some more of the influences place has had on his work and encouraged everyone to go to the gallery to see the work. He said artists often have a hard time in the spotlight, talking about their work.

“We sort of want the attention to be on that neat thing we made,” he laughed.

Martin said he was attracted to MSU by the fairly large pool of faculty doing good work, and he hopes to build on that while he is here.

Suzanne Powney
Suzanne Powney has been a graphic designer since 1995 but said she discovered the world of letterpress when she got frustrated with the lack of texture in graphic design.

“It has become a part of me; it feeds my soul,” the professor of Letterpress, Graphic Design and Advertising with an MFA from the University of Houston said.

Powney’s work in the exhibit includes three books resting on tables that float. She said she wanted to create an intimate space where visitors could engage with the work on a very intimate level. In fact, all Powney’s books are meant to be touched, and she hopes visitors will interact with them.

“Poke” consists of a series of circles. Powney said people are supposed to use a stylus to poke through to see where the paper gives, and eventually words will emerge from the pattern.

“Stroke” is a series of words and graphics, “thousands of dots referring to thousands of neurons – how we physically observe the idea of touch.”

Powney said “Trace” requires interaction to find what the message is.

The overall theme in her work is “how touch is important to who we are as humans.”

“I’m hoping this feeds you with some thoughts,” she said.

Harvey and the audience next had a chance to ask the artists several questions about their work and connections between their work.

The artists will all be present at the opening reception of the exhibit, New Associations, on Jan. 24 from 5:30–7:30 in the Department of Art Gallery in McComas Hall, to answer more questions.

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