Our last visit to the Giertz Gallery at Parkland College was an opportunity to check out some of the best material produced at Parkland’s art department classrooms in the 2018-2019 school year. We returned this week for Giertz’s first exhibition of the new school year: an annual showcase for the work of Parkland’s faculty artists.
This time around there were fewer works by fewer artists — which, on the upside, made it easier to appreciate each artist on an individual level.
Melinda McIntosh, part-time faculty in the Art and Design program, was chosen to deliver a gallery talk during the exhibit’s opening reception on her efforts to reclaim en plein air (outdoor) painting.
“Plein air painting doesn’t just belong to the Impressionists in the art history books; it is still very much alive and offers many challenges different from the studio experience,” said McIntosh in a prepared statement. “Not only do you have the usual concerns with color, light, and composition, you now have a race against time. With the sun shifting throughout the day, your colors and shadows also change, forcing plein air painters to work alla prima or in three-hour increments.”
Peg Shaw, an associate professor in the Photography & Video program, is on a whole different mission. Shaw has spent decades deconstructing an old home movie in various media, some of which are on display at the exhibit.
In “Witness” (below), Shaw slows down the home movie for a frame-by-frame appreciation, connecting across time with the great uncle who originally shot the images and positing on the video’s label that “the beauty of images captured or created is that we can pass on what we witness and hope the intrigue continues for others.”
Another interesting project comes from Art & Design Program Director Denise Seif. Her “Micro Series” was inspired years ago by growing cultures in petri dish with her daughter, and has expanded to incorporate sources such as tissue stains and seeds.
“These pieces are my quiet contemplation on the complexities of nature,” she says in the artworks’ label.
“Ukiagaru,” a cyanotype by part-time Art & Design faculty Stacey Gross, may be the single most striking piece in the exhibit. Gross uses this old photographic printing process to create a larger-than-life, ethereal human figure, and she pointedly refused to provide an explanation on the label, preferring that “viewers come up with their own narrative.”
Other highlights include various oil paintings by Paula McCarty, adjunct instructor in the Hospitality Program:
Abstract graphite and alcohol ink drawings by Matthew Watt, associate professor in the Art & Design program:
The exhibit closes on Saturday, Sept. 21, and if you visit on the last day, you get to participate in a special workshop for Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day! One way or another, make sure to carve out time for Parkland’s next exhibit that opens on Sept. 30, showcasing Urbana-born, Chicago based Jessica Gondek’s visual explorations of humans’ relationship with machines over the ages.
Photos by Sergio Barreto. Top image: Pottery by Shawn Fairchild