Faculty Art Gallery

University Art Gallery hosts 45th annual fall faculty art exhibit

The College of Arts and Media held the opening reception for the 2022 Faculty Exhibit Thursday, Sept. 8 in the University Art Gallery. The exhibit will be open until October 1 and displays art from 6 faculty members.

The Faculty Art Gallery has been a tradition for 45 years at Central Michigan University. The last day to visit the exhibit is Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Anne Gochenour, the director of the University Art Gallery, said it is a way to showcase contemporary work to students and it is an opportunity to hear the faculty's creative voice.

The works that will be on display were created by faculty in the Department of Art and Design, including Israel Davis, Rose Brauner, Brian Elder, Kris Sanford, Ryan Flesher, Julie Benda and Michael Volker.

“I would assign the purpose of art, as its ability to touch a person," Davis said. "Even if the person is the artist themselves. What art means to me is an opportunity not to only express something, but an opportunity to connect to others. It's a path, a lifestyle, a way of long-range planning toward and within a career path. Personally, it got me out of a potentially toxic environment."

There is no set artistic theme to the event. Although, many of the artists have themes for their individual exhibits.

Brauner said her exhibit is titled “it was never mine.” She said that her parents had recently sold her childhood home, which caused an internal struggle. She explained that the same mechanisms that allowed her parents to acquire her childhood home allowed it to be taken away.

“I reflected on all of the things in that place that were never truly mine,” Brauner said. “You can’t own a sky, worm, you don’t even really own a garbage bin. It (the exhibit) also asks the question of how well [we] take care of things[,]... the way humans only take care of what they think they own. I’m asking the viewers to step inside the story and feel all of the ideas with me.”

Volker has been a part of many staff galleries over his years teaching at CMU. He described his art as being inspired from nature through painting outdoors and going to art school. Volker said he wants to paint nature with a "sacred air around it to try to get more people to connect with nature." 

“We have an interesting relationship with nature where we acknowledge the sacredness of nature, while simultaneously destroying it," Volker said. "I found ways to symbolize the relationship between man and nature. I try to raise it up to something more profound than just a commodity or a natural resource. I try to get people to think of correlations between the modern world and our sacred connection to nature.”

Benda explained that biology interested her, but wasn't the correct career path for her to take. Instead, she took that interest and applied it to her work, often creating different kinds of creatures like the ones on display at the faculty art gallery. 

Flesher described his piece as “Displaying division" and "Pressure."

"There are layers of information related to physical/mental health and wellness," Flesher said. "These layers are affected by recent history and current events including politics, immigration, and the family unit. 'Pressure' is very much from the pressures of mass media. That idea of pressure, you have pressure all the time to perform."

Gochenour said students should come to the gallery because they are exposed to visual arts and information all the time. 

“We would like to help students become literate in visual arts," Gochenour said. "Many are not aware of visual information. There's also more information available about the art here in person than online.”

Benda said it is important to hold the gallery because one of the biggest selling points in the CMU art program is that most staff in the department are working artists themselves.

“Show(students) that there is a future they can pursue with art," Benda said. "Seeing art outside of an academic capacity is good, so people know they have time to improve, and they don’t need to be amazing right now.”

Flesher said that the art may challenge people by the artist's meaning, but may also come out of the exhibit with a new understanding of the topic.

“For me, my specific work is not intended to provide all the answers. It is my job as an artist to present questions. I usually have some sort of narrative presented, and the viewer can use that as a jumping-off point.”

The Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.. It is free to students and the public. Appointments outside normal operating hours can be made by emailing Gochenour at goche1as@cmich.edu.