Faculty art exhibit provides insight into professors’ lives

Professor Mark Anderson's "Garden Ritual," a Monotype print on display from Jan. 14 to March 1 at Martin Museum of Art . Photo Courtesy of Mark Anderson

By Carson Lewis | Page One Editor

The Martin Museum of Art hosted an opening reception for the Biennial Faculty Exhibition Thursday night, featuring works from 19 faculty on staff in Baylor’s art and art history department.

The exhibition opened Tuesday and will be available to the public until March 1. Art historian presentations started the evening before the official opening reception at 5:30 p.m. in the museum, located in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center.

Faculty members submitted pieces of their work to the exhibit, which also featured a quote to accompany their artwork. The professors’ quotes ranged from their experiences in the world of art to their love of teaching.

Mark Anderson, chair of the department of art and art history, as well as a professor in the department, exhibited two pieces of his work for the opening: “Garden Ritual” and “Brazos River V.” Both of the pieces are monotypes, a medium of printing.

Anderson said the work of “Garden Ritual” is unique because of the printing technique that he used.

“It is a one of a kind piece, I should say,” Anderson said. “The monotype — meaning one… With the monotype process you make one. When I clean the ink off the plate, it’s a totally smooth plate, just like the surface of your phone. It’s a process I’m drawn to… It begins to take a life of its own. It’s like a dance… I’m interacting with it.”

H. Jennings Sheffield, an associate professor in the department of art and art history, presented her project “Tethered” at the exhibition.

Sheffield’s project entailed her taking photos every 30 minutes for four months, and digitally combining the images to formulate a single image of time. She described the work as depicting the tethering effect that life has, in which the different roles one plays — artist, mother, professor, wife and daughter, in the case of Sheffield — can follow one even in different areas of life.

“Tethered actually began as a way of investigating the tethering effect that we experience every day,” Sheffield said.

When Sheffield began her project, she was a mother to two children while pursuing grad school.

“I was trying to be a mom, I was trying to teach classes, and I was going to school full time and being a wife,” Sheffield said. “I felt completely pulled. I would try to compartmentalize my life every day… but as [we] all know, that never works.”

Even though she tried to balance her artwork, her education, teaching and being a mother, she said that life would always get in the way and make compartmentalizing these different roles in her life impossible.

“I realized trying to compartmentalize my life was not a way to successfully work as an artist and get through it with my sanity,” Sheffield said.

Her artwork, which consists of three pieces, is held up by shelves at eye-level, which Sheffield said is a new addition to the project.

“I kind of like this idea of a family mantle, and I think that that work and the size and relation to Benny Fountain’s pieces on the opposite of it that are talking about moments and memory — I think that the two really have this great conversation going back and forth,” Sheffield said.

Allison Chew, the Martin Museum of Art’s director, said a lot goes into the planning and execution of a new exhibit.

“We usually install within a week to two weeks, so we move very fast,” Chew said. “I don’t actually have a lot of time to enjoy the work as a viewer. I am dissecting it as a professional trying to assess, ‘Where is this going to fit? What’s going to look right next to it?’”

Chew said that some of the things the museum looks at while setting up a new exhibit are what pieces of artwork will compliment each other, and which ones will look nice next to each other on the wall.

“We look at our space; we have to think about how visitors walk through the space, so we want to place work in such a manner that draws them into the museum in the first place,” Chew said. “We want them to experience a compelling visual narrative when they come in… We think a lot about flow of information, how they fit together.”

The exhibit also features red numbers alongside the works, which correspond with pages in the catalog available for visitors at the museum. Chew said this allows for viewers to reference more information on art they find intriguing.

“I think [the exhibit] is beautiful. I think that the museum and its staff did an incredible job. They do an amazing job of collecting the imagery, and how they hang it,” Sheffield said.