First Noontime Art Talk of year with faculty artists

The first Noontime Art Talk featuring the artists of the 2019 Faculty Biennial Show took place in the Davis Gallery of the Museum on Friday, Sept. 20. Fall Studio Art faculty members Bradley Borthwick, Bevin Engman, Amanda Lilleston, and Thalassa Raasch presented and discussed their artwork, which is on display Sept. 5 through 22.

Thalassa Raasch, photographer and Faculty Fellow in Art, had four photo prints along with an audio clip in the gallery. Her work on display was part of a project portraying the story and vocation of one of the last manual gravediggers, who is an artist himself. Raasch shared some of her personal inspiration for these particular works.

  “I’m drawn in by him and his work,” Raasch said in an interview with the Echo. “It means a lot to get feedback, and that happens when I get to share in person. It transcends my relationship with him, when other people are looking at the piece.”

Raasch shares one man’s story, perspective, and place in the world with this project.

 “I’m interested in how viewers bring their own interpretation and projections into a piece. I love hearing people’s reactions,” she said.

When one viewer approached Raasch after the art talk with tears in her eyes, Raasch said, “everyone is seeing it in different ways, and in the ways that they need, and appreciating it.”

Painting Professor Bevin Engman had four oil paintings on display, all still lifes from her studio featuring blank block canvases and varying colorful backgrounds.

“When I first saw them, I was struck by the use of color and how it related to what we’re learning in class,” Siver Araestad `23, one of Engman’s painting students, told the Echo.

First year Danni Lucey attended the talk. “It was interesting because she didn’t realize what it meant until after. As she went on after her first work, she developed her ideas even more trying to communicate them between each piece,” Lucey said in an interview with the Echo. 

Lucey summarized that the artists’ own perspectives on their work shed light on their intended meaning, which impacted her own appreciation for the work.

“Everything is very deliberate in what [Engman] did. Maybe she didn’t have an image from the start, but knowing her intention let me see her work in a different light, like a progression of her artistry.”

Raasch added her perspective as an instructor. “It’s great for students to see your work and process when you’re asking students to put themselves out there. Art making can make you feel really vulnerable, and this gives them a chance to see your work, to know who you are,” Rasch said.

On the interpretation of a professor’s art, Aarestad said, “as she continued to speak and describe her own experience with her work and its meaning as an allegory for race, I felt that my understanding of it changed. I was also able to relate what learned in class to what she painted.”

Each artist’s talk was unique in what they shared about their processes and personal interpretations. During the question and answer part of the talk, Raasch explained that she does not reveal the setting of her photo Ladder because the mystery adds to the art. Raasch shared that photography is like a poem, and quoted photographer Robert Frank.

“When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice,” Raasch elaborated. “I want my images to function like poems, where we go back and read a second time. There’s a quick read, and then a read that pulls you back in.”

Attendees of the talk spent deliberate time examining the displayed works before and after the event. Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Amanda Lilleston had four untitled works on display from her “Waterforms” series. During the talk, Lilleston emphasized the role her interest in anatomy played in her watery prints made with layered sekishu and gampi. The gallery also contained a wall of photography by Gary Green, an associate professor of art who is currently on sabbatical. A video work by Professor of Art Bradley Borthwick titled Flodden (circa 1513): A Measure of Histories Buried There, was displayed in an alcove with a bench facing four square projector panels.

The Noontime Art Talk series joins guest speakers along with members of the museum staff and college faculty to answer questions and talk about art works and exhibitions with participating viewers. Raasch emphasized the value of this art dialogue to enhance conversations and make connections with colleagues and students. 

“Even if we’re not aware, it can spark discussions and open a new idea or new inspiration.”

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