“Art Inspires Art”: Faculty exhibit opens at the Mandeville

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For Jacob Pet ’12, a conversation with printmaker Sandra Wimer

Blue Maddona

Walter Hatke, "Blue Madonna," 1979, oil on linen

led to a meditation on how “teaching has changed the way you make art or the art that you make.”

Grace Delgado ’14 spoke with professor Martin Benjamin about artistic instinct and experimentation.

And Emily Burgess ’10 learned that her mentor, Charles Steckler, needs only “the barest of materials, a handy pen and paper, a spare moment and some humility” to be inspired to draw.

These faculty-student exchanges, which explore the art-making process for young and seasoned artist alike, are a fundamental part of the new exhibit at the Mandeville Gallery.

“Art Inspires Art,” a collection of works by Union’s Visual Arts faculty, opens Thursday, Jan. 12, with a reception set for 6 p.m.

From Chris Duncan’s steel and wood sculptures to Steckler’s “automatic drawing,” Walter Hatke’s precise canvases of uninhabited rooms to Wimer’s variety of prints, Fernando Orellana’s virtual world to Benjamin’s deeply real photographic vision, the show gives viewers a new lens through which to see similarities and differences among these six accomplished artists and teachers.

“The vibrancy of their art is palpable, due partly to the differences in their techniques, narratives and philosophies,” said Marie Costello, Mandeville Gallery interim director.

Three of the artists share a regard for drawing, Costello noted, viewing it as essential to their work, “whether to speed up the idea process (Duncan), slow it down by changing scale and placement (Hatke) or for the experience itself as a vehicle to meditation (Steckler).”

Other faculty members are tied to technology, but from different angles. Wimer has mastered various printmaking processes, including lithography, etching, photogravure and digital, to investigate color, line and paper, while Orellana explores the interaction of computer engineering, conceptual art and sculpture.

And Benjamin’s photography, Costello said, “deepens our experience of the real, from taking club shots of jazz and rock and roll, to exploring the cultures within cultures around the world through juxtaposition.”

The exhibition catalogue includes the artists’ interviews with students they have mentored. In addition to Pet, Delgado and Burgess, students include Brittany Gilbert’12, who has studied painting and drawing with Hatke; Sheri Park ’13, who worked with Orellana under the Arnold Bittleman Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship; and Chester Urban ’93, who has exhibited his own work in New York City and who credits Duncan for encouraging him to pursue art.

“The students have teased out motivations and interests in their mentors’ work that is not always present in the classroom,” Costello said.

What’s also apparent, she said, is that all of the faculty members “are dedicated to sharing their knowledge with students and are energized by the continual renewal that comes with each new student.”

“Art Inspires Art” will be on view at the Mandeville through Feb. 26.