The University of Maine’s 2021 faculty art exhibit, “Faculty 2021: Featured Art Faculty Exhibition,” showcases a variety of media and themes by seven faculty artists in the Lord Hall Gallery until March 12, 2021. From digital prints to oil paints, to pieces with varied types of wood, the exhibit showcases artwork of all different kinds for everyone to enjoy.
Although the gallery may assume a quiet face upon entry, visitors will soon learn that the artwork inside creates both emotion and sensations big enough to fill the room. The talent on display is intricate and detailed, and will leave lasting first impressions.
A prominent theme of the exhibit is the use of natural materials to create works of art. Two faculty artists in particular, Susan Camp and Wayne Hall, used wood to create their pieces on display. Camp also used real mushrooms to create some of her pieces.
Most of Camp’s pieces involve natural latex casts used to cast natural, organic materials. The outdoors were her biggest inspiration in creating these pieces of art. Three of Camp’s featured pieces are titled “Entanglements,” “Monuments” and “What we carry.”
“For many years, a primary focus in my practice has been utilizing natural, biodegradable materials; keeping the environmental footprint of my artistic production as small as possible,” Camp said. “Conceptually, my work focuses on our relationships with other species, the impact of agribusiness, food production and availability, and the marketing of ‘natural’ products. In this work I have collaborated with other species including drosophila, gourds and mold. Most of this work involves constraining or manipulating these other species in environments of my creation.”
Instead of removing organic material from its environment, Camp created natural latex casts to recreate the story she saw in the object.
“I have been building on my investigations of interspecies entanglements, by creating ‘skins’ made from natural latex casts of trees in my wood lot that were scarred by logging equipment over forty years ago,” Camp said. “These irregularities [where the trees have been forced to change their growth patterns] document the coercive forces that surround these organisms and the resilience in their adaptations to the changed environment. The impressions of the natural forms serve as visual metaphors for the damage we endure and inflict [both visible and hidden] and the beauty of resilience.”
Hall, on the other hand, created his pieces using the wood itself in his studio at home during quarantine.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, the daily structure of our lives fractured, leaving painful fissures, some dramatic, hairline or even invisible,” Hall said. “We stayed home. We avoided contact with others. We self-isolated. In my case, I worked alone in my studio. I needed some comforting play time to counterbalance grieving and anger. I found spoon forms to be something inviting I could wrap my arms around or just hold in my hands as a reliable distraction. And I could spend lots of time with my favorite tools: very sharp knives, saws, rasps and other carving implements.”
With all this time on his hands during quarantine, he created over 80 wooden spoons for a display titled “Quarantine Work,” all to each their own.
“This show is the result of much of that studio time,” Hall said. “Not just the spoons themselves, but the intriguing cut-offs as well. My goal was never to design production models. In fact, some of the gestural, dramatic cut-offs are as interesting as the spoons. I made over 80 spoons before I used any of them, which reveals where my true priorities lie: form and beauty over function. It’s the unfair luxury of an artist, I suppose.”
Other faculty artists in the Lord Hall exhibit include: Samantha C. Jones, Andy Mauery, Robert Pollien, Matt Smolinsky and Giles Timms. Jones contributed a piece made of painted silk velvet, Maurey contributed drawings on No. 6 plastic that were shrunken, Pollien painted a series of oil on panels, Smolinsky contributed a series of archival digital prints and silver gelatin pieces and Timms had an animation available to watch on a television screen. In addition to Hall’s wooden spoons, he also created artwork with graphite and charcoal on paper.
For more information on the current “Faculty 2021: Featured Art Faculty Exhibition” as well as previous and archived exhibitions, please visit https://umaine.edu/art/lord-hall-gallery-page/.