Faculty Arts Show Transcends Professional Labels with Paint, Photos, and Etching

The Faculty and Staff Art Show, held until Dec. 5 in the First Floor Gallery of Carney Hall, showcases a variety of works by talented faculty and staff from Boston College. Ranging from creative combinations of clay, acrylic paint, and crystals to intricate needlepoint work, the exhibit offers a contemplative collection from a vast array of artists.

Presented by the Boston College Art Club, the gallery provides faculty and staff with an opportunity to showcase talents that venture beyond their typical fields of work. The 12 artists included staff from the Burns Library to professors from the biology department. Most of the pieces presented are fairly straightforward at first glance, such as photographs of scenic Boston and a silhouetted construction site, while others invite deeper examination.

The first work in the exhibit is an aquatint line etching titled On Island Cottage Beach by Anne Bernard Kearney, a professor of romance languages and literature. It depicts three women spending what appears to be a casual and refreshing day on a pebbled shore overlooking a serene body of water. In the distance of the painting, mountains are topped with a light, calm shade of yellow, drawing the viewers’ attention to the central woman’s yellow hair as well as the yellow blanket shared between the three. The soft, centralizing focus of yellow accompanied by the gentle outlines of each woman’s shoulders suggest that the meeting is nonchalant and joyful.

Directly underneath is On Island Cottage Beach II, also by Kearney. The piece is identical in its scene but is conveyed in black and white. The absence of color carries with it a sentiment of nostalgia, solemnity, and farewell, further emphasizing the sense of comfort, commonplace, and bliss in the colorful piece above it.

Down the hall is an intricate needlepoint piece titled Discernment by Walter Conlan, S.J., and Sammy Chong, S.J., from the art, art history, and film departments. A Jesuit priest is depicted with his head thrown back toward the piercing purple background, which presents an aura of both wisdom and mystery. Each hand of the priest is outstretched, grasping a circular object. The objects appear to have carried with them a sort of revelation, indicating a freshly discovered understanding by the subject. The mystery, however, lies within whether his face discerns anguish, relief, or further confusion.

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Two multimedia pieces by Carol Chaia Halpern from the biology department offer a unique visual to the center of the exhibit through their vibrant colors and creative use of materials. Broken Hearts depicts nine evenly-spaced broken hearts made of clay on a yellow and aqua colored canvas. Dancers (with broken hearts) directly below depicts its nine dancers as lightly-arched acrylic strokes adorned with colorful dots and fabric around what would be the dancer’s waist. The background is arranged into seven strict blocks of color, signifying a sort of tension, while the looseness in the composition of the dancers symbolizes a sense of freedom.

Our Lady of the Forest by Burns Library staff member Barbara Adams Hebard depicts a lightly-wooded, ethereal forest through a collage of printed paper. The painting’s graceful feel is achieved through faded, earth-based colors of green and tan being contrasted with a glowing warmth of yellow and orange radiating from the right of the painting, back in the distanceinsinuating some kind of encroaching, great light. The river in the front reflects this radiance on the central focus of the painting: a woman wrapped in an olive robe kneeling in the weeds. The gradually encompassing light and kneeling position of the woman gives off a sense of reverence and beauty. Her seemingly distressed gaze issued toward the light brings us to question what the light actually represents. Is it the sun? An artificial light? God?

Directly adjacent is another piece by Hebard titled The End of Timealso a printed paper collage. It depicts Jesus in an orchid pink shawl, his arm resting across his chest. Behind him rests a background sliced into three horizontal sections. On the base is a depiction of an emblematic desert with beige-colored sand, presumably what Israel looked like during the time Jesus lived. In the middle section is a more modern depiction of a desert with rocks and ruins, presumably what Israel looks like today. The top section depicts a fiery sunset, maybe showing what Israel will be when Jesus returns at The End of Time. The juxtaposition of these two otherworldly pieces permeates a sense of deep piety and admiration, and potentially offers us an answer to the question begged by the former piece.

All these paintings and questions prove that, at the Faculty and Staff Art Show, a chosen profession does not necessarily limit one’s capacity to experience different forms of expressionbe it in photography, painting, collaging, or etching.

Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Heights Editor