Art exhibit considers value of drawing

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Artist Walter Early exhibits two of his works in the Haggerty Art Gallery. Photo by Katie Chaikowsky.

When asked about the value of drawing from observation, printmaking and drawing Professor Steven Foutch replied, “Do you want to learn to see the world with a completely new set of eyes, or not?”

“When you draw something from life, you start to reexamine everything around you,” Foutch said.

He is far from alone in this belief. The current exhibition in the Beatrice M. Haggerty Art Gallery, “Shape-Shifter: Drawing from Observation,” focuses on drawing as a primary medium.

Three drawing courses are required of every art major during the art Core.

“Drawing is the base language of art,” sculpture and drawing professor Philip Shore said.

However, drawing can be much more than merely a preliminary step before the real project. “Shape-Shifter: Drawing from Observation” consists of the work of four artists: Trevor Bennett, Walter Early, Mayuko Gray and Shelby Shadwell, who have absolutely blown away the community of the Art Village.

Bennett’s work focuses on drawing figurines and small sculptures in charcoal. Bennett is also a ceramicist, which translates interestingly into his work. As a ceramicist, he covers his pieces in glaze, which is literally a glass skin designed to cover and coat the outside of fired clay. Bennett was ultimately inspired by this reflective quality.

“The newly glazed surface of the objects [are] far more reflective than that of their original skins,” Bennett said. “ I consider this sheen to be symbolic … the reflection [is] a form of judgment, [because] we stare at the works and they stare back, showing us ourselves.”

Early’s exhibited work depicts various objects through black ink and paper. Early experimented with color for this series, but found that stark black on white was the most successful for what he aimed to accomplish.

“All the subjects depicted are from real encounters, but I wanted to remove as much information as I could and focus on … the interactions of form that caught my eye,” Early said.

He isolates the forms he depicts from their context and loosely renders them in order to “free these objects from the constraints of specificity and allow them to become archetypes.”

Gray uses graphite and paper to create zen-like compositions that harmoniously combine animals and objects with Japanese calligraphy. Gray previously  focused her work more on the expression of emotion, but now she looks to everyday moments in life as an inspiration. She advises young aspiring artists:

“[Do] not worry about what is popular or what is the trend in the art world, [instead] pursue and make art that is true to yourself,” Gray said.

Shadwell’s work in “Shape-Shifter: Drawing from Observation” utilizes a reductive method to depict subjects like trash bags, spiders, and cockroaches in charcoal. Shadwell says he enjoys making such large scale work.

“You can see it from a much wider perspective in a gallery setting … and it allows [me] to draw with [my] whole body,” Shadwell said. “In some ways [it is] a form of cognitive behavioral therapy [when I] create the things that [I] find monstrous.”

Anyone who has not been able to see “Shape-Shifter: Drawing from Observation” should take advantage of the opportunity and stop by the Beatrice Haggerty M. Gallery this week. This show comes down Nov. 5, but “Sacred Transmitted: A Century of Design from Emil Frei Studio Archives” opens Nov. 9.

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