Work of NIU art instructors shows talent

By Jessica Cabe

They say those who can’t do teach.

Over 50 faculty members in the School of Art proved that saying wrong once again with Tuesday’s opening of the School of Art Faculty Biennial Exhibition.

The exhibit is on display in two galleries in the NIU Art Museum, located on the west end of the first floor of Altgeld Hall. The galleries are free and open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment for group tours through Feb. 25, 2012. The exhibit will be closed Dec. 17 to Jan. 9, 2012.

Students, faculty and community members enjoyed the artwork at the opening reception on Tuesday. The galleries were crowded with about 30 people snaking around the twists and turns to get a good look at everything on display.

One of the first pieces that caught my eye was a duo by professor Harry J. Wirth. His watercolors “The Opening” and “Strata” were inspired by the horizon and the landscape of Southeast Wisconsin. The beautifully blurred painting contains a dream-like quality that kept me staring for several minutes.

A huge drawing of produce and insects grabbed my attention upon entering the next part of the gallery. “Edible,” associate professor Karen Brown’s charcoal and pencil piece, is mostly black and white with bits of color throughout to add visual interest and dimension.

Instructor Blaine Bradford drew inspiration from Henri Bergson, the 19th century French philosopher, for his oil painting “Terminally Beige”. This large painting of a man from his neck to his knees employs a limited color palette to express the limitations we unconsciously place on ourselves. The nameplate contains a quote from Bergson which sums up the painting beautifully: “We live for the external world rather than for ourselves: We speak rather than think; we ‘are acted’ rather than act ourselves.”

“Smoke Signals” and “Tracking Signals” by assistant professor Ashley Nason are lithographs expressing the growing discord between man and the environment, specifically the ways in which the changing environment is affecting the animals trying to survive. Images of dogs in gas masks with a smokestack backdrop illustrate the struggles between nature and human beings.

All of the artwork sheds light on the artist’s personality and style. From deeply personal subject matter to opinions on economic or social issues, each faculty member has expertly expressed himself or herself and contributed to a beautiful exhibit not to be missed.