Fine arts professors held the Florida A&M faculty show’s opening reception for the first time in over a decade Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. in the Foster Tanner Fine Arts Gallery.
Assistant Professor Liu Nan, who teaches various levels of art education, drawing and painting classes, submitted watercolor as well as oil paintings in the show.
The subjects in his oil paintings in the exhibition were inspired by photographs of people he’d met during a trip to rural China in 1995.
“I traveled there and stayed in the village for four weeks,” said Nan. “A girl, Sasha, always came with me when I carried my sketchbook, so I drew her. I drew other children and an old man in the village.”
Nan invited his friends and brought his wife and children to the reception.
Visiting professor and gallery coordinator Aja Roache, who teaches art management, appreciation and merchandising in FAMU’s Fine Arts Department, coordinated the show with associate professor and facilitator Harris Wiltsher.
“I know that professor Nan was working on a few of the paintings that are actually exhibited in class,” said Roache. “Some of his students actually saw him in the process. To see the completed work I think will be fun for everybody.”
Wiltsher has taught various drawing, printmaking, graphics and advance art courses at FAMU outside of his work at the art gallery since 1996.
“I have a pretty good working environment, so all the faculty are very easy to work with for the most part,” said Wiltsher. “It wasn’t really a challenge to pull it all together.”
Five of Wiltsher’s original pieces are in the show: four are serigraphs (silkscreen prints) and one is a watercolor painting.
“Four of them actually deal with some sort of political/social commentary that’s, generally speaking, the type of work that I do,” said Wiltsher. “That’s the type of printmaking work that I do.”
Wiltsher encourages his students to incorporate social commentary in their artwork and expects the, to learn the significance of content in artwork from the exhibition.
“I submitted one watercolor painting because I wanted to exhibit something that’s completely different from what perhaps students, other folks, other faculty and some other people that know me, something different from, what they’ve experienced from the type of work that I’ve exhibited before,” said Wiltsher.
The greatest challenge in planning the exhibition was adjunct professor Mark Fletcher’s kite installation. It hung from the ceiling of the gallery, attached to a red string that leads to a clay sculpture of a man holding the string from the ground level of the gallery.
“Hopefully, what happens is, you see the kite and it makes some impression, and you follow the red line downstairs, and it makes you look over and recognize the space of the gallery,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher submitted ten sculptures and illustrations, including the installation, with a continuous “owl” theme inspired by an actual owl that kept visiting him where he lived.
“My brother was going through some hard times, so I wrote a poem for him that had to deal with a different aspect of things,” said Fletcher. “In particular, I used the owl as a symbol of how life is good and bad, and you just have to hang in there and work through that.”
Students and children were fascinated by an animation series designed by assistant professor Noble Sissle. The promotional video teaser played during the reception on a display table.
“I have an animation company that I created and I’m looking to produce and direct an animated feature film,” said Sissle. “What I have in this show is artwork and concepts from the movie that I am working on. It’s an animated feature film about Noah’s Ark told from the animals’ point of view.”
The teaser is to promote his personal animation feature film and the fact that FAMU is the only HBCU to offer game design courses and a fine arts degree in animation.
The faculty show ends Jan. 28 in preparation for Chester William’s retirement retrospective show in February.
To find out more about FAMU’s Fine Arts Department and the Foster Tanner Fine Arts Gallery visit www.famuart.com.