Sweet Briar Faculty Art Show Opens

| February 4, 2011

Sweet Briar College studio art professors Joe Monk, Laura Pharis, Paige Critcher and John Morgan will open an exhibition of their recent works at a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11 in Pannell Gallery. The show will remain on view through April 3.

The studio art department faculty organizes a campus exhibition every four years, which allows each class of students the opportunity to see them as working artists as well as teachers.

Each has professional pursuits beyond the classroom, and two, Monk

Lucky in Love, 2010 monoprint and relief print, by Laura Pharis
“Lucky in Love,” 2010, by Laura Pharis
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and Morgan, operate studios in Lynchburg. The quadrennial show, however, ensures students are able to see their art exhibited without having to leave campus.

Monk specializes in three-dimensional work and is a gifted ceramicist. He will display some of his functional pottery and his modern-day take on traditional memory vases — oversized vessels encrusted with relief castings made from sundry Cracker Jacks toys, jewelry and other found trinkets.

He also plans to show a self-portrait. It is composed of stacked paint cans with computer-generated labels that taken together reveal his visage. The inspiration for this piece, Monk said, is “being an artist.”

Pharis is a printmaker who revels in getting her hands dirty. “Nothing can replace the sensual pleasure and immediate reward of messing with materials and using whatever skill my hands have learned over years of making,” she writes in her artist statement.

Among the works she’ll show is “Lucky in Love.” The monoprint with relief depicts a woman’s gown. Washes of dripping color form the skirt, suggesting the shape of a birdcage, over which the image of a crow is superimposed.

The crow has no particular meaning, Pharis said. “I just had an impulse to put it there. … I make what I want to make, and let the viewer interpret it.”

She notes the image does have a rural feel, though, a quality she says is more present in her work since coming to Sweet Briar, where mountain music, folk tales and nature close at hand are inspirations.

Critcher will be showing images from Alaska, where she photographed the landscape along the Dalton Highway. Known locally as the Haul Road, the route traverses a remote area of the Arctic to supply the North Slope oilfields.

Bare mountains and tundra dominate the scenery, but the Alaskan pipeline also is there, a presence that is both benign and ominous, Critcher writes in her artist statement. “It’s compelling sculptural form stretches alongside the Haul Road, playing hide and seek with the Brooks Range, the native caribou, the traveler who follows its abrupt ends and reappearances.”

Finding it beautiful, she wonders how the pipeline enhances the landscape at the same time it threatens it — and seeks to capture the dichotomy with her camera.

Morgan is noted for his shadowboxes, mixed media wall sculptures using collage, assemblage and encaustic with found objects. He’ll show pieces from several series he’s been working on over the past few years, some inspired by influential 20th-century surrealists Rene Magritte, Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp.

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“Their philosophy has been important to me and it drives a lot of my own work,” Morgan said, although, like Magritte, his art is more personal, reflecting his own life.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, call (434) 381-6248 or e-mail [email protected].

Gallery conversations with the artists also will be held at noon Feb. 24 with Monk and Pharis and at noon March 3 with Critcher and Morgan. All are welcome to attend and bring a bag lunch.

Category: Art Galleries, Studio Art, Uncategorized