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Anderson Gallery displays faculty works with ‘Solving Problems’ theme

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“MILLCREEK ROAD” by adjunct professor Maria Cervantes includes contrasting colors, movement and balance to create rhythm. PHOTO BY Lily Wasserman | features editor

“MILLCREEK ROAD” by adjunct professor Maria Cervantes includes contrasting colors, movement and balance to create rhythm. PHOTO BY Lily Wasserman | features editor

From children’s book page sketches to collected writings from the past six years, the latest Anderson Gallery exhibit may seem unconnected, but each piece is a faculty member’s interpretation of the central theme “Solving Problems.” 

On Feb. 1, the Anderson Gallery opened its latest exhibition, titled “Solving Problems.” From now until March 8, the gallery will display works by Drake’s art and design faculty. 

“It felt like a good time to have [an exhibit] to highlight our faculty, [including] new faculty that joined us this year,” Lilah Anderson, the Anderson Gallery art director, said. 

According to Anderson, the art and design faculty came up with the exhibit theme, based on approaching a problem during the design process or making art in response to a witnessed problem. 

Associate professor of graphic design Neil Ward chose to exhibit a recent client project, a screen printing of a home that a husband had gifted to his wife. The homeowner sent Ward pictures of the home, fireplace and pet. Ward created the design and custom-printed it. 

“He gave me creative license to bring my skills into the design,” Ward said. The piece is in the mid-century style that Ward uses in his work at Mainframe Studios 329. Mid-century style, according to HGTV, is a style of furniture popular in the post-WWII suburbanization period that is typically utilitarian but sleek with bright colors.  

Ward’s display includes demonstrations of every step of the process, from sketching to the final piece on French paper, a type of paper used specifically for screen printing. 

“This shows my process of decision-making and problem-solving any production issues to get to the final,” Ward said. 

The title of his piece, “Sonambient,” is inspired by mid-century patio furniture designer Harry Bertoia’s sound sculptures. Ward added two sound sculptures to the design for the couple’s home. The two sound sculptures, sculptures that utilize sound as part of the medium, are at the center of the piece. 

“It’s crafting a narrative of who lives in the home, that’s what I love about the process,” Ward said. 

John Fender, chair of the Art and Design Department, also approached the topic by demonstrating his design process. Fender, who teaches a J-Term on bookbinding, chose to display bookbinding demonstration samples utilizing various types of binding. 

“I enjoy the prep [and] selection of materials. I enjoy the technical aspects of sewing. It’s a very procedural kind of object. It’s hard to separate the different kinds of steps,” Fender said. 

Fender also exhibited a shelf design for his studio. The display includes preliminary pieces, schematic drawings and a model of the shelf with the final design. 

“I worked within the confines of the wood. I had to be able to design the shelf and construct it,” Fender said. 

Edward Kelley, a studio technician in the Department of Art and Design, approached the theme as using art to address existing problems. His pieces on display address topics such as gun violence, acceptance and understanding in the United States and keeping emotions buried.
One piece, titled “Seed,” includes the head of the Statue of Liberty on a pedestal, where the top protrudes from a box like a growing seedling. 

According to Kelley, the piece was inspired by “the direction of how things are today. It’s kind of about building upon something that exists, that we seem to have forgotten about, which is acceptance and understanding.”

Another piece is an expletive that the viewer can only fully see by looking down in the pipe-like vessel. Kelley said this is similar to how people hide their frustration. 

“I feel like that’s something we have all felt in our lives, an exclamation of exhaustion and frustration,” Kelley said. 

Anderson said she was glad to see many people, including Drake students and 

community members attend the opening reception. 

“It’s important for students to see their faculty not just as teachers but as artists,” Anderson said. 

Rachel Roen, a junior studying secondary education and art, attended the reception because some of her professors were part of the exhibition. Roen said she enjoyed examining the many mediums and interpretations of the theme in the gallery. 

“There’s just so much going on. Everything’s so different,” Roen said. “There’s so many different approaches to this one central theme.”

On Feb. 15 and Feb. 22, faculty with works in the gallery will talk about their creative processes. Information about the talks is available on the Anderson Gallery website.

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