“A Backward Glance”: Artistic alumni, then and now

Natalie Schermer

Last Friday, Oct. 7, marked the official gallery opening of the alumni art show, “A Backward Glance”. From 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Myers Main Street gallery next to Somerset in the Warch Campus Center, refreshments were provided and the lighting was configured to best display each piece.

The artwork will be on display until Nov. 21, but opening night made for a one-of-a-kind atmosphere as students and faculty turned up to appreciate these pieces in the best environment possible.

Although some of the pieces, especially the paintings, had already been on display for some time, the finishing touches were added before the reception. New additions included various 3D pieces as well as statements from each artist regarding their contributions.

Featuring alumni artists from as early as the class of ’82 to as late as the class of ’05, the show attempted to display each artist’s progression in his or her work since graduating. To this end, each artist submitted a piece from their days at Lawrence, as well as a piece created after having left.

All of the artists represented had been involved in art at Lawrence, even if not all of them pursued careers in the field after graduating. The variety of mediums represented was astounding: Everything from basic acrylics and oil paintings to stained glass and photography had its place.

The juxtaposition of the new and old, the past and the present, provided the central theme of the show. When choosing which works to submit, most of the alumni had attempted to select pieces related or linked in some way. This decision only served to enhance the comparison between each artist’s contributions.

The connection could be as tenuous or obvious as the artist liked. For example, Alex Guenther ’98 presented two works centered on the color yellow in nature: “Banana” (oil on panel, 1998) and “Green and Yellow Plant” (acrylic and colored pencil on unprimed canvas, 2011).

Different mediums, different styles and years apart — yet the two paintings looked as if they could have been purposefully painted for the same series.

Brigitte Boucher ’05 chose a different method of linking her two pieces: both were portraits, but the resemblance stopped there. Her piece from her undergraduate days, “Prozac: Portrait of My Sister” (oil on canvas, clay, wood, 2005), depicts a smiling, happy girl and underneath, a clay model of a pill with the word “Prozac” printed on it.

The combination of mediums and implications of the pill make for a visually interesting, thought-provoking composition. Her newer work, “Emily at the Café” (stained glass, 2011), also depicts a smiling girl, but this time the real interest lies in the medium: The stained glass is fascinating and attracts attention across the gallery.

By selecting two portraits, Boucher showcased her growth as an artist while staying true to her roots.

“A Backward Glance” manages to emphasize how aspects of each artist’s style have both changed and remained consistent. The links between the different pieces provided a cohesiveness that the show would otherwise have lacked. If you haven’t seen the show yet, it’s well worth taking a few minutes out of your day to stop by and take in some good art.