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Annual Art Exhibit Showcases Faculty Works in Diverse Media

NEW LONDON, N.H. – Colby-Sawyer College's Fine and Performing Arts Department hosts its annual faculty art exhibition from Friday, Nov. 7, through Friday, Feb. 13, at the Marian Graves Mugar Gallery in the Sawyer Fine Arts Center. An opening reception, organized by New London, N.H.-based Center for the Arts (CFA) “First Friday” Gallery Walk Series, will take place on Friday, Nov. 7, from 5 to 7 p.m. Fine Arts faculty members presenting their latest works in a variety of media include Joyce J. Kolligian Distinguished Professor and Department Chair Jon Keenan, Professors Loretta Barnett and Bert Yarborough, Associate Professor David Ernster, and Assistant Professors Nicholas Gaffney, Mary Mead and Hilary Walrod.

Loretta Barnett

Showing paintings, sculpture and assemblages at the exhibition, Professor Barnett believes that the expressive qualities in each genre has its own set of parameters and opportunities with which to examine the laws of nature. “I am exploring the contemporary issues of cultural, societal and cyber-space 'betweenness' in my most recent paintings,” said Professor Barnett. “In 'Findings IV: leapintothevoidred,' I am working off of Yves Klien's Leap into the Void concept of defining ethereal space and then playing my red off his signature blue.”

“The differences between looking and seeing, and those between watching and understanding, intrigue me; these situations are part and parcel of several works in the show, including 'Findings V: Mystery of Between,'” Professor Barnett added.

David Ernster

With works in ceramics, including a vessel structure titled “Crows,” Professor Ernster has always found himself drawn to media that deal with the physical or symbolic ideas of containment. “Vessels can segregate and transform space and make us feel differently about it,” said Professor Ernster. “The forms I use come from my fascination with the circumstances of life and the need for objects that serve some purpose or function [even] if only symbolically.”

As a child, Professor Ernster was engrossed with fossils and their permanent transformation of life preserved as stone. “I spent many hours contemplating the circumstances surrounding the life of these living things or the pertinence of the objects captured in time,” he said.

Along the same vein, he says, clay has life and infinite possibility. “Knowing that the work I make with [clay] will be transformed and fixed in time is something I take seriously when deciding what to fire,” said Professor Ernster. “In contemplating the possibilities of function as it relates to form, culture, and history, I stay engaged in trying to invent and interpret our dialog with life.”

Nicholas Gaffney

Professor Gaffney will display eight pigment print photographs that capture the thin strip of land in West Lebanon, N.H., between the big box and the Connecticut River where the Mascoma River empties and I-89 crosses into Vermont.

“This relatively small area seems to speak to something larger in terms of the environment we live in, the stores that we shop in, and the roads we travel on,” said Professor Gaffney. “It is a landscape of often intense beauty, yet it's where things are discarded: the homeless set up their tents, discarded boxes are left behind by the big stores, the river floods and washes up its own detritus.”

Through his images, Professor Gaffney considers the transformations in the landscape. “I began taking these photos in the fall and hope to continue them at least throughout the year, describing a landscape that is familiar and yet slightly forgotten,” he said.

Jon Keenan

Represented by 33 pieces of wood-fired porcelain and stoneware, Professor Keenan's current work is indicative of his expertise in wood-fired ceramics. “Exploring the expressive possibilities of porcelain and stoneware provides for unlimited opportunities to communicate subtle and nuanced ideas,” said Professor Keenan. “My ceramics are both functional and sculptural, echoing the interaction between nature and everyday life.”

Much of Professor Keenan's current work concentrates on anagama wood-fired natural ash glazed ceramics made at his studio and kiln in Elkins, N.H. He prepares his own clays and glazes with natural materials, and his firings take several days to achieve the desired effects. “The firing process directly influences the patina and character of the work, creating a rather rough and organic surface quality,” said Professor Keenan. “The results can be exhilarating and rewarding, sometimes disappointing, but for some reason I keep working.”

Mary Mead

Professor Mead will feature new prints of varying scale from her ongoing series 'Heads' and from her current series of prints inspired by surfing and waves. Her surf series includes mixed media silk screens and woodcut intaglio monoprints.“The process of woodcut intaglio involves drawing on a sheet of luan with a Dremmel tool,” she said. “The plate is sanded, shellacked and printed both as an intaglio plate and a relief plate.” She often adds additional ink once they have gone through the press.

Professor Mead began her exploration of a series of heads in a variety of printmaking processes during the winter of 2013. She completed a series of large scale prints at Gravity Experimental Print Shop in North Adams, Mass., last fall with Master Printer Brandon Graving. Professor Mead is a member of the Boston Printmakers Society and has work in print exhibitions at the Newport Art Museum and in the 2014 Hartnett Biennial of American Prints at the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art at the University of Richmond.

Hilary Walrod

Professor Walrod will present works in graphic design and painting at the exhibition. In addition to three melamine plate designs, she will showcase “Vote the Environment: Consider Contexts,” a poster for Patagonia's 2014 Vote the Environment campaign, and a CD cover design for “Nicholas Roth Plays Robert Schumann: Humoreske, Op. 20; Novelletten, Op. 21.”

Professor Walrod's design practice takes on various forms, intentions and media, including two-dimensional, three-dimensional and digital. “I focus on independent projects on food and, increasingly, on health, as well as periodic freelance and pro bono projects in support of local foods, the environment and the arts,” said Professor Walrod. “I am inspired to use social and environmental values as an impetus for visual communication, and many of my recent works in diverse media are united in their relationship to environments.”

Sense of place is a compelling force for Professor Walrod, which drives her commitment to projects that relate humans and natural systems in meaningful and sustainable ways. “Sense of place inspires me to respond to the world around me, translating my observations and perceptions into visual works,” she said.

Bert Yarborough

Professor Yarborough's current works in acrylic and inks on wood panel represent an extension and distillation of his engagement with the figure that began in 1996. They include monotypes executed with James Stroud, Master Printer and owner of Center Street Studios in Milton, Mass.

“Drawing continues to be the key component to my investigation and exploration with the human form, right from when I began drawing figures on the beaches in and around Provincetown, Mass.” said Professor Yarborough. “As the years have progressed I have been extracting additional images from this environment – the water, sun, birds and other elements of the landscape – and reconstituting them with the mark-making language of previous abstract work.” This summer, Professor Yarborough began making large-scale drawings in the same environment in order to continue to stretch the language and mark-making possibilities that the activity brings to the work. “I am now combining this language with a variety of figurative, symbolic and abstract images,” he said.

For more information on the exhibition, contact Professor and Gallery Director Loretta Barnett at (603) 526-3668 or

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

- Anurup Upadhyay '15

Anurup Upadhyay is a business major at Colby-Sawyer College and a student writer for College Communications.

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