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Colby-Sawyer College Fine Arts Faculty Present Annual Exhibition of New Works in Diverse Media

NEW LONDON, N.H. - The Colby-Sawyer College Department of Fine and Performing Arts presents its annual Art Faculty Exhibition from Oct. 30 to Dec. 4, featuring new works by art faculty in drawing, ceramics, graphic design, new media, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture.

The exhibition features the work of faculty artists Loretta S.W. Barnett, Debbie Campbell, Brian Clancy, Nicholas Gaffney, Brandy Gibbs-Riley, Dan Gottsegen, David Ernster, Jon Keenan, Michael Lovell, Rebekah Tolley, Kristin Tupper and Bert Yarborough.

An opening reception for the show will be held Thursday, Oct. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Marian Graves Mugar Gallery at Sawyer Fine Arts Center. The reception is free and open to the public, and will include refreshments and opportunities to meet the faculty artists. The gallery is also open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Generous support from the Friends of the Marian Graves Mugar Art Gallery made this exhibition possible.

The show includes the work of Fine and Performing Arts Department Chair Loretta S. W. Barnett, who works primarily in sculpture. Barnett's sculptures are playful and layered with meanings, and often incorporate elements of painting and photography. Her interests lie in concept-based sculpture and the melding of intellectual and physical aspects of nature.

In her current research, Barnett focuses on the continual breaking down of barriers between art in the landscape, and landscape as art. Nature is at the core of her work—both human nature and the natural world. A graduate of Boise State University (B.F.A.) and Ohio State University (M.F.A.), she teaches courses in sculpture and Art in the Landscape.

Professor Jon Keenan's first exposure to the art and craft of clay came as a boy living in New Delhi, India, as he watched potters demonstrate their throwing abilities using primitive hand-powered wooden wheels. “The technical virtuosity and creative spirit of these potters had a profound impression on my work and future path,” he says. Years later, as Keenan studied ceramics and art history in Kyoto, Japan, he acquired the technical training and aesthetic sensibility evident in his work today.

Keenan's ceramics are both functional and sculptural, echoing the interaction between nature, culture and the experience of everyday life. His current work concentrates on anagama wood-fired natural ash glazed ceramics, and he mixes his own glazes and clays with natural materials. “I am attracted to the spontaneous and expressive qualities achieved through firing in an anagama semi-subterranean wood-fired kiln,” he says. This technique allows Keenan to “explore the expressive possibilities of porcelain and stoneware for unlimited opportunities to communicate subtle and nuanced ideas.”

Keenan recently completed a year as a visiting research professor of art and associate director of the Craft Campus at the University of North Carolina Asheville. He has exhibited widely in the United States and Japan, and guest-lectured at institutions across this country and in Great Britain, Japan and Brazil.

He is also the recipient of several grants from from the Fulbright Specialists Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, and the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. He earned an M.F.A. in Art History and Ceramics from the Kyoto University of Fine Arts Graduate School and a B.A. in East Asian Studies and Studio Art from the University of New Hampshire. At Colby-Sawyer, he teaches courses in ceramics as well as the history of East Asian art and culture.

Painter Michael Lovell says his sensibilities were “indelibly stained” by the “colors, contours, movement and otherworldly, almost surrealistic fluidity and freedom of events and contexts” of the television cartoons in his childhood. As much as he tried to combat it, cartoons bubbled up as his benchmark for visually exciting work. “I eventually decided not to reject them for influences more subtle and cerebral, but to go with them,” he says.

A collector of antique machinery, whose simplicity and functionality he finds beautiful, Lovell often incorporates their exposed mechanisms into his paintings, sometimes as three-dimensional elements that transform flat planes into animated sculpted forms. “I'm not a minimalist; I prefer my work to overflow with images and structures and movements,” he says.

Lovell received his B.F.A. from Cornell University and M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The work of Associate Professor Bert Yarborough, whose expertise is in drawing, painting and printmaking, has evolved from an earlier focus on abstract, iconic images inspired by his experiences in the Provincelands National Seashore in Provincetown, Mass., and time spent in Nigeria as a Fulbright Fellow. He began working with the figure as a way of reaching a level of expression he felt he hadn't attained through abstraction.

While drawing remains a key component of Yarborough's exploration of the human form, he has begun to extract essential elements from the seashore—the water, sun, birds and figures—and reconstitute them with the mark-making language of his previous abstract work. “I am now combining this language with a variety of figurative and symbolic images including those derived from my African experience,” he explains, describing his current work as an extension and distillation of his engagement with the figure.

Yarborough has received two New Hampshire State Arts Council grants in painting, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Fulbright Fellowship in sculpture. He has exhibited his work throughout the United States and in Japan. He teaches painting, drawing and printmaking at Colby-Sawyer, along with senior a Capstone class in Professional Practice and Portfolio. Yarborough holds an M.F.A. and M.A. from the University of Iowa, and a B.A. from Clemson University.

New works in printmaking and new media created by Rebekah Tolley, assistant professor of art and the director of the college's Marian Graves Mugar Gallery, reflect her recent immersion in China's cultural and artistic traditions and collaborations with its artists. Her print series “Inedible” was inspired by her participation in China's Sanbao International Printmaking Exhibition, Symposium and Tour in 2007 and experiences of consuming such “inedibles” as goose feet and tree bark with her hosts. Her current prints embrace traditional Chinese materials and paper cut outs, which she uses both as stencils and as images for producing reproducible matrixes.

Tolley earned a B.F.A. from Concordia University and a M.F.A. in Printmaking from Temple University. She has exhibited extensively in Canada and the United States, and her work is included in numerous public collections in both countries. Tolley teaches Printmaking, Computer Applications for the Artist and a course in Animation and Video Art.

Painter Kristin Tupper explores the creation of form through layered veils of transparent watercolor, with mosaics, gardens, vintage floral textile designs and old sepia photographs serving as inspirational points of departure in her work. These influences spark her ideas for shape, value, rhythm, variety, mood and color in her work, in which she explores themes such as the manifestation of energy, visual interpretations of music, multiple patterns and the behavior of the paint itself.

Tupper has exhibited her work extensively in New Hampshire. She earned a B.S. at Bridgewater State College and post-baccalaureate certifications at the University of Kansas and New Hampshire Technical Institute. She teaches classes in watercolor painting.

Following years of professional design work for academic, corporate and industrial clients, graphic designer and Assistant Professor Brandy Gibbs-Riley realized her long-time dream of teaching, first at Chester College and now at Colby-Sawyer. Yet she continues to excel as a graphic artist; this year her new works were recognized with two excellence awards in the University of College Designers Association annual international design competition and appear in juried design competitions for the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Her designs, distinctive in their bold graphic elements and simplicity, have helped dozens of clients, including Colby-Sawyer's Fine and Performing Arts Department, to develop a distinctive identity amid competitive markets.

Gibbs-Riley earned an M.F.A. in Graphic Design from Boston University and a B.A. in Studio Art from Bates College. She teaches courses in the history of graphic design, graphic design, typography and publication design at Colby-Sawyer.

New works by another designer, Deborah Campbell—an adjunct faculty member who teaches courses in visual identity and system design, computer applications, and the history of graphic design—will also appear in the show. Campbell, who runs a full-service design and advertising firm, enjoys the challenges of creating designs for clients and believes art “is all about problem-solving” and offers her ways to express herself. Campbell studied graphic design at the Massachusetts College of Art and earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Northwestern University.

Photographer and Assistant Professor Nicholas Gaffney makes photographs at the intersection between natural and manufactured worlds, juxtaposing water, dirt, trees, sky and animals against manufactured elements that seek to replace or dominate them. He photographs objects such as toys, candy and plastic detritus against natural landscapes, for example, in an attempt to both understand and find the humor in their relationships.

“The images that I create, whether set up or documented, are meant to be glimpses at these small and large collisions,” Gaffney says. “When I was a boy playing games and making up stories in the woods, I remember my feelings of wonder and fear being almost overwhelming. My hope…is to evoke a similar kind of feeling, while acknowledging the inherent absurdity of a piece of plastic in the woods.”

Gaffney, who earned an M.F.A. in Photography from the Pratt Institute and B.A. in English from New York University, has exhibited his work across the United States. His photography has appeared in numerous magazines and online publications. He teaches photography and Computer Applications for the Artist.

A former art faculty member at the University of California College of the Arts and the University of Massachusetts/Lowell, painter Dan Gottsegen has returned in recent years to the rural landscapes of Vermont, where he explores mankind's relationship to the landscape and natural environment in his new works. His process often begins with long solo treks in the wilderness and ends in the creation of works that reviewers describe as “poignant,” “meditative,” “emotionally powerful” and “haunting.” Gottsegen sometimes uses technology to arrive at his images, juxtaposing scenes and abstracting through technological mediation to evoke a multi-layered sense of meaning and depth.

Gottsegen has exhibited his work nationally in solo and group exhibition and won numerous awards and fellowships. This year he was the recipient of a Vermont Arts Council Individual Artist Creation Grant, and he is an official juried artist of the Vermont Arts Council. He holds a B.A. from Brown University and an M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts and teaches various courses at Colby-Sawyer including Introduction to Art, design and drawing.

Adjunct faculty member David Ernster is interested in the ability of art objects to transport viewers to a kind of primal space in which they are able to gain insights into the objects' creation and achieve a greater understanding of their mystery and origins. “The record left by the manipulations of process, material and abstract symbolism for me act as a kind of cultural artifact that is mean to create a mystery of why, where and how—questions that I hope the viewer will take with them to be asked again,” Ernster explains.

Ernster has expertise in ceramics, printmaking, metalworking, sculpture and jewelry-making and has exhibited his work across the country. He earned an M.F.A. in Ceramics from West Virginia University and B.F.A. in Metalworking/Jewelry from the University of Iowa and teaches classes in ceramics at Colby-Sawyer College.

To learn more about the Colby-Sawyer College Fine and Performing Art Department, visit

To learn more about Colby-Sawyer College's public events, visit the Calendar of Upcoming Events.

The Marian Graves Mugar Art Gallery, directed by Rebekah Tolley, hosts seven major exhibitions and related public events each academic year. The gallery is located on Seamans Road on the west side of campus in the Sawyer Fine Arts Center. Admission is free and events are open to the public. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Friday, Saturday from 10 to 2 p.m., and other times by appointment. The Mugar Gallery and Sawyer Fine Arts Center are fully handicapped accessible. For information, please call (603) 526-3000.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000