Suellen Rocca hopes Elmhurst College’s newest art-exhibition space will help introduce the campus community to the work of the College’s art department faculty.
So what better place for Rocca, as curator and director of exhibitions, to display their work than in one of the campus’ most highly trafficked thoroughfares?
PathGallery|ArtFaculty, as the new space is called, has its grand opening reception on Tuesday, April 10, at 11:30 a.m. in the Frick Center’s main-floor corridor.
Though work by faculty artists long has been displayed around campus, the new gallery is the first space dedicated to presenting the work of faculty.
“I thought this space had a lot of potential because it gets so much traffic,” Rocca said. “I wanted students to encounter our faculty not only as skilled teachers, but as practicing professional artists. Their teaching is an extension of their work as artists. It’s a way of sharing a body of knowledge.”
The work on display in the gallery’s opening exhibition is diverse. It ranges from a lush oil painting of a pair of tomatoes by Associate Professor Richard Paulsen, part of a series called “Portraits of Produce,” to a photograph documenting an installation by sculptor and Associate Professor Dustan Creech called “Dreaming of Sleep” that consists of a steel bed towering 24 feet above the ground.
Rocca asked each of the faculty artists represented to include a statement providing some insight into their work. Paulsen, for example, writes that he aims in his painting of fruits and vegetables “to address these wonderful gifts of nature with all the care of a formal portrait of a prestigious personage.” Creech writes that his elevated bed, looming far out of reach of the viewer, was inspired by struggles with a sleep disorder.
Rocca said the statements provide valuable context for viewers. “People are sometimes put off because they think they don’t understand art,” she said. “What they don’t realize is that art is challenging for all of us. It’s supposed to be. But I love to give people keys or ways to help understand what they are seeing.”