On Friday, Feb. 21, the University of Maine’s Lord Hall Gallery hosted an opening reception for its Featured Faculty show, with the work of eight faculty members of the University of Maine Department of Art on display. New work is showcased by John Eden, Michael Grillo, Susan Groce, Laurie E. Hicks, James Linehan, Ed Nadeau, Gregory Ondo and Ellen Roberts. The showcase included three-dimensional works, such as wood-fired ceramic pottery and sculpture, as well as two-dimensional works, such as laser-cut monoprints and photography. The exhibition will be on display Feb. 17 through March 13.
Upon entering Lord Hall, the first artist displayed is Roberts, showcasing several of her most recent laser-cut monoprint works. Alive with color, exhaling intricate pattern and detail, Roberts paints a scene in each of her prints.
“My work is from nature and I look at things [closely],” Roberts said. “I’ve always been interested in texture, and my background is in textiles. [Additionally], I teach two-dimensional design, and one of the assignments is on pattern … by looking at nature.”
The combination of these factors, Roberts’ background in textiles and interest in nature and pattern, allows for the audience to observe almost a patchwork quilt of naturalistic vignettes.
The next artist on display, Eden, showcases his work, which consists of several of his stoneware teapots. Ranging in firing methods, Eden highlights two teapots in the center of his display, which were wood-fired, a process that comes with a sense of community along with the opportunity to create beautiful pieces.
“It’s quite a big event. I have friends in Pennsylvania … we [gather] and take turns stroking the kiln,” Eden said. The woodfired teapots in particular have a sense of unpredictability. The artist allows the flame to take over, giving his pieces a unique speckled look.
Hicks, another featured artist, is also the curator of the Lord Hall Gallery. Her work consists of multiple digital photographs on display, each featuring “up-close” plant forms that Hicks found while traveling in Hawaii, Scotland and North Carolina. Her work brings a sense of life back into the midst of a gloomy Maine winter and tends towards the documentary side of photography, striking a balance of capturing the natural world, while catering to design, aesthetic and pattern.
At Friday night’s reception, Grillo, whose photography is featured at the gallery, had a “photo booth” set up with his camera, lights and a stool for guests. Grillo took four portraits at a time of whoever wanted to participate. He took the opportunity to explain to participants the development of his photographer persona, led by taking photos on the street and compared it to that of a beginning journalist.
The artists were available at the event to speak to anybody who had questions about their work. Each discussed the goals of their artwork, the messages they hope to send with it and how they aim to connect it to others or themselves. They also discussed the process of their work and how they perfect it, tweaking and changing their ideas as they go.
Nadeau, Ondo, Linehan and Groce also were available for discussion of their work, each taking time to talk to visitors at the reception about each of their pieces. For more information regarding upcoming, current and previous exhibitions, check out the University of Maine’s Lord Hall Gallery page under the Department of Art, https://umaine.edu/art/lord-hall-gallery-page/.