by Nina Hufman
The Staff and Faculty Exhibition is now open at the Cal Poly Humboldt Reese Bullen Gallery, featuring artwork created by members of the art department.
The exhibition will run until Oct. 15. It features a variety of mediums from all of the divisions of the art and film departments. Isabela Acosta, a gallery attendant and art history major, was excited about the variety of work presented.
“It’s literally every faculty member from every art sector, and they’re presenting their work here which is super cool,” Acosta said. “You have jewelry, ceramics, sculptures, paintings, some videos, there’s some digital art that’s really cool. It’s just like a whole nebula of stuff.”
Students were excited to see their teachers’ work in a gallery setting. Jack Miklik, an English major, talked about the importance of featuring faculty work.
“They’re practicing artists and teachers,” Miklik said. “It’s good to like, look and see if you enjoy the work that your instructor is making. I think it’s like one of the more important shows as students for us to see in the art department.”
Many of the artists featured in the exhibition were heavily impacted by COVID-19. Their works feature themes of isolation and a desire for connectedness.
“A lot of this work I think was done during like COVID so when you read their little manuscripts they just talk about like what they were doing during COVID and what came out of it,” Acosta said.
Dave Woody, a photography and film lecturer, has two pieces in the gallery. “Gabe” and “Madeline” are both silver gelatin prints created in 2022. In the card next to his work, Woody discusses how the pandemic has impacted his art.
“The lessons learned during that period of isolation really helped me to value the time that I do have with friends and strangers,” Woody wrote. “These photographs included in this show feel reflective of my current state of thinking about images of people- a desire to connect and to embrace the beauty and mystery of life.”
Dan Molyneux, a lecturer specializing in ceramics, also wrote about his experience of the pandemic. His featured work “Chroma Teapot” is part of a series of ceramic teapots that were created during the pandemic.
“As a ceramic sculptor, it became important to focus on this series of teapots/ewers over the course of the pandemic,” Molyneux wrote. “These are abstract vessels that project an idea of function rather than functionality itself but served me as a touchstone of sharing and community during a very isolated time.”
COVID-19 was not the only subject of the faculty artworks. Sondra Schwetman, an associate professor who specializes in sculpture. Her piece “Witness” was created in 2019 from fabric, pigment, and steel. In her description of the piece, Schwetman writes about how her work embodies the themes of the female experience.
“My current body of work addresses the ambiguous space between reality and fiction where the female form and therefore females often dwell,” Schwetman wrote. “The works in this series concentrate on psychological, religious, cultural, and social issues that impact women everyday such as: reproduction and reproductive rights, illness and COVID-19, class systems, colonization, compliance, silence, and war.”
Marilyn Koch, a visiting faculty member who specializes in jewelry and small metals, discussed the concept of “self” in her two featured works, “We are a colony,” and “Year 30: Age Badges.” The pieces utilize unique mediums like hair and synthetic teeth.
“It is egocentric in nature and at first glance, coyly uses replicas of the human body to simultaneously repel and entice us,” Koch wrote. “Beyond the skin, teeth, or hair, are themes of ephemeral youth, community, social norms, and a prominent objective: A desperate attempt to define the Self.”
A wide variety of mediums and subject matter means that there is something that everyone can connect with.
“My favorite piece is this painting over here and it’s called ‘From palms to pines.’ It’s just about moving from SoCal to up here,” Acosta said. “There’s like the map of Los Angeles and Orange County that goes into the map of Humboldt County.”“Gina [Tuzzi]’s paintings are really nice,” said Martin Lopez, an economics and studio art major. “And the cars, the ceramic cars, are pretty sweet. Yeah, that shit’s tight.”