Traveling Exhibit Aims to Break Down Boundaries

Students walking by Boyden Gallery in the last few weeks may have noticed a new exhibit being housed in the gallery entitled “Between Fences.” Between Fences is a Smithsonian Institute traveling exhibit that has been touring Maryland since September 2010.

Michael S. Glaser, Professor Emeritus, wrote a letter introducing the exhibit in which he describes it as “[an exhibit] designed to encourage local communities to consider the various ways fences are experienced.”

“Local fences play a large role in how we see ourselves as members of our Southern Maryland community,” writes Glaser. He also wrote on the mission statement of the exhibit, which is to “encourage us to think more deeply about how we are defined by the fences in our lives.”

The exhibit is composed of numerous installations concerning fences, both metaphorically and physically, and how those around the Southern Maryland community are breaking down fences and communicating.

Glaser wrote, “Local exhibits will embrace a rich mosaic of diverse groups, such as, the Patuxent River Keeper, the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, Daughters of Abraham, Calvert Marine Museum, Walden Sierra, the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, and the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions, to name a few.”

Each participant set up an installation to be in the gallery as a way to explain how their organization works to break down fences.

Most of the installations utilized pictures and information about their organization to express how they were breaking down fences, but some took it even further and used other forms of art to express themselves.

The installation “And They All fELL Down: English Language Learners in U.S. Schools, by Katy Arnett and the Members of the Student Education Association,” created large, colored puzzle pieces which each held a fact about English Language Learners in the Unites States education system.

The Walden group’s “Air it Out: A Clothesline Project,” displayed artistic t-shirts as a way to express the fences faced by those who have been victims of abuse.

While each group had smaller installations which they had creative control over, the center of the exhibit holds large information concerning fences and their history in the United States.

These posters show fences as they have evolved in utilization and material throughout the United States.

St. John’s Pond Becomes Home to St. Messie Monster

Flyers were placed all around campus asking if anyone had encountered the St. John’s Pond Monster known as St. Messie. (Photo by Ken Benjes)
Flyers were placed all around campus asking if anyone had encountered the St. John’s Pond Monster known as St. Messie. (Photo by Ken Benjes)
First, there were the signs, spread around campus. “Have you seen me?” they asked, next to a sea monster’s silhouette. Then, in the dead of night, a tail appeared in St. John’s pond. As the rest of the monster was assembled, the sculpture the artist prefers to call “St. Messie” became a conversation starter around campus.

St. Messie (the name is a combination of St. Mary’s and Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster) was a project for an advanced sculpture class taught by professor Lisa Scheer.

“I charge the students to think up a way to create a sculpture that enhances an audience’s interactivity with it. Students can interpret that in a lot of different ways,” said Scheer.

“You can imagine how this sculpture could have just been like any sculpture that anyone put up. I would hope that some of the reason that it’s getting this sort of response is that the artist included all these ways to make it more interactive…as opposed to just presenting it as a given. I think the other thing about it is that [the artist] specifically chose something like the sea monster that is purposefully fun.”

According to the artist, who wishes to remain anonymous, the pond was chosen as the installation site because, “It’s right at the crossroads since everyone sees it. There are creatures in the pond but it’s really murky so you don’t really know what lives in there.”

The sea monster was assembled slowly in order to increase the interaction between audience and sculpture.

“This is the first time I’ve done something really public,” the artist said. “I think it added some character to the pond.”

In order to preserve anonymity, the artist installed the piece during low tide, at about three or four in the morning. “One of my friends helped me, but it was pretty hard because the mud is so thick and your feet get stuck in it when you step in it. We got stopped by [public safety] once because they were kind of confused about what we were doing,” the artist said.

The project received a lot more attention than expected. After the artist created a Facebook page called, “St. Mary’s Sea Monster?” current College students and alumni began a discussion thread about the monster’s name. Proposed names have included Alejandro, St. Messe, St. Messie, Johnny, Noah, Chessie (later clarified to be the Chesapeake Bay monster), the St. Mary’s Sea Monster, and Jessie.

“I think its name should be Noah because St. Mary’s City is famous for the Ark and Dove ships, as in Noah’s Ark and the dove that let them know the water was receding,” said Hannah Werme, one of the students who commented on the page. As of March 27, “St. Mary’s Sea Monster?” had 204 fans. The sculpture’s appearance was also recognized on Ken Benjes’ blog, SMCMLOL.

At least one student has met the monster in person. According to first-year Zach Etsch, “On March 10 right after my friends ponded me, I went out to do battle with the sea serpent, whose name, I was told as a reward for victory, was “Ursula.”

The campus community should keep an eye out for the sea monster’s return. “I’d definitely like to bring it back,” the artist said. “Possibly move it around the pond, like have it travel.”

Student Artists Given Awards and New Perspective on Art

On Monday, March 23, Boyden Gallery’s latest exhibit opened, to the sound of music playing in the background. Photographs, paintings, drawings, and sculptures lined the exhibit’s perimeter, two walls rising up from the floor created their own miniature hallway, and computers in the corners displayed various digital creations. It was the opening of the 40th Annual all-student art show, and students and faculty alike flocked to attend.

“I really like it,” said junior JaVon Townsend. “I’m really impressed with some of the stuff I’ve seen today.”

Sophomore Brittany Sigley, an art history major who also attended the show, agreed. “I thought that the art show was great,” she said. “The work presented was impressive and incredibly varied—there were so many perspectives.”

The art show was organized by Mary Braun, director of the Boyden Gallery. According to Professor Joe Lucchesi, the head of the Art and Art History departments at the College, the faculty’s role was more informal, involving talking to students about their work and encouraging them to submit to the show.

“It’s great for the students to have the experience of choosing work, submitting it to be juried, and having someone they don’t know review their work,” said Lucchesi. He said that the

College tries to rotate between art professors at other colleges, people involved in professional galleries, and curators or museum professionals to expose the students to a wide variety of juror styles.

This year’s juror was Ledelle Moe, the department head of sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Several years ago, she had spent a year at the College when sculpture professor Lisa Scheer was on sabbatical. As juror, she chose and arranged the works that would be on display.

Moe said that in every piece, she was looking for “resonance, not only on its own but with each other…no work operates alone.” The photos at the front of the gallery were “still,” and the sculptures functioned as “natural interrupters” to create a sort of “weave” as attendees walked through the gallery.

“I was reaffirmed that the quality of work is remarkable, and the diversity of the work is incredible,” Moe said.

Moe also selected an artist from each of the four years to receive an award for “Outstanding Work,” which came with a $50 cash prize, as well as a work to receive the Patti Runco Arts Alliance Purchase Award, in which the College buys the piece for $500 and adds it to the College’s collection. The winners were, respectively, first-year Yujia Dong, sophomore Dana Gittings, junior Kate Pollasch-Thames, senior Dan Bedford, and senior Spike Meatyard. Moe said that giving awards was especially difficult because “it’s a hierarchical system, and that’s not how art works.”

“It was quite a surprise,” Meatyard said about winning the purchase award.

Meatyard said of his work, “It’s a wide range of stuff that I’ve collected. A lot of it is architectural and cultural as well.” His wooden sculpture came from a 1960s cruiser boat that was burnt at his family’s marina, and his purchased piece was a painting done on a piece of canvas that came off of his sailboat.

“It’s interesting to find new materials that can be recycled for art’s sake,” he said.

The art and art history departments also presented their own awards. The first was the Vasari prize, a book award for a junior or senior for scholarly accomplishment in the study of art history (winner: Kate Pollasch-Thames). Two awards were given for outstanding work in art history as evidenced by submitted essays (winners: Anna Danz and April Morgan). Awarded last were the Stephen Szabo award for excellence in both art history and studio art (winner: Bonnie Veblen) and the Frank McCutcheon Memorial Award for a junior or senior who demonstrates artistic promise (winner: Kelton Bumgarner).

All in all, the show was well-liked.

“I loved this year’s show,” said Lucchesi. “I think it’s really strong…and it really represents our curriculum. What’s important to us to teach students, I see a lot of that reflected in the show.”

Senior Kris Fulk, who had two pieces in the show, was happy with the show as well. “I wish I wasn’t a senior so I could be here next year to submit some more work!”

Placing Colors Opens

artAs part of the Placing Color exhibit, The Boyden Gallery is displaying paintings by Brett Baker, Kayla Mohammadi, and Carrie Patterson from January 19 to February 28.

According to the exhibit’s website, www.placingcolor.com, “Placing Color is an exhibition that explores painting as both a place of action and a destination.”  The artist’s approaches, “seen together…create places that are both intimate and immense, unified by a sensitivity to the means of painting – touch and color.”

The gallery is open from 11 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and from 11 am to 7 pm on Wednesdays.  A panel discussion will be held on February 4 at 4:30 pm at Boyden Gallery in Montgomery Hall.