This past weekend, Drake University’s Professor Project highlighted artwork inspired by Amahia Mallea, a visiting professor of history. The exhibit ran all weekend in Drake’s Anderson Gallery in the Harmon Fine Arts Center. This was the sixth year for the Professor Project. The project merges visual art with inspiration from another field of academia.
The art students are members of Associate Professor of Art and Design Angela Battle’s painting courses. Battle is the coordinator of this annual interdisciplinary project.
Mallea is currently studying environmental and public health history of the Missouri River. Her presentation, “The River Becomes You”, showed how the relationship between the natural world and how it becomes a part of urban environments. Mallea focused on the Missouri River’s history and its integration into the social and ecological history of Kansas City.
Senior Mary Kate Miller’s untitled painting reflected her feelings about the power plants along the Missouri River. Officials have tried to purify the water that has been damaging the plants, but have ended up polluting it even more. Residents along the river tend to be low income, and the river has made them ill and has damaged their homes when it has flooded. Miller said she had a special quality to the painting,
“If you take a picture of it with a cell phone, the tree actually looks dirty,” Miller said.
Rachel Crown, a senior art history and painting major, took a different approach to her painting. Crown found it most interesting when Mallea discussed the “the me and the not me.” She explained that the river is a part of you.
“You drink it, absorb it, it is a part of our system,” Crown explained.
Crown’s piece was a duel comparison and reflection on how one sees them and how others see them. Her piece was a collaboration of layers over a different painting.
The upstairs of the Anderson Art Gallery had poems read by students who also did collaboration with an art class. Art students created paintings of a poem, and students wrote poems about a painting.
This was junior Lisa Jaffe’s first stab at reading her poetry aloud to an audience. Jaffe read two of her poems, “Etched in Memory” and “Plastic.” She said she was oddly calm before the performance.
“I look forward to seeing how the audience interprets and reacts to my poems,” Jaffe said. “It is always interesting to see what other people think of your work.”
The exhibit was cosponsored by Friends of the Drake Arts. It was filled with friends, faculty and students. There was also an open buffet of fall treats such as cookies, pudding and cider.
“I am really proud of my friends and classmates, this is phenomenal work,” senior Holly D’Anna said. This was D’Anna’s first time at the show, and she was there supporting a friend.
“The Professor Project engages young artists by exposing them to materials and ways of thinking that are new to them,” Battle said in a previous interview. “Their work is a response to something new within the existing formal and conceptual frameworks in which they are familiar.”
The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Photos: Darcy Dodge