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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

JustArts exhibit reveals hidden artistic talent

Published: October 10, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, Brandeis launched a new art exhibit in the Dreitzer Gallery titled the “JustArts Faculty/Staff Exhibition.” Full of paintings, sculptures, drawings and more, this represents the best art of the Brandeis community. Professors, staff members and researchers alike contributed to the gallery, and the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Fine Arts sponsored the exhibit.

Maggie McNeely and Johanna Adams contributed the two best artistic moments in the gallery. McNeely has been a university archivist at Brandeis since 2005, and her job involves collecting mementos from the history of Brandeis. Her paintings on display include “Where the Rocks Open Widely,” a depiction of a rock outcrop that looks eerily like a sheep, “Shift” which shows a rodent-like creature blossoming into a tree and “Primo Prime Primi” where a person’s shadow rises out of the body of a lizard. McNeely’s bio on display states that the inspiration for these paintings form “in my brain at odd hours” and that art allows her to understand existence more fully, and share the love “between people and an appreciation of nature.” McNeely’s love for nature is evident in the way the very earth seems alive in her paintings, from the deep brown dirt to the towering trees in “Shift.” She is also an excellent painter of animals. The sheep in “Where the Rocks Open Widely” stares at the viewer helplessly, like it hopes it is still hidden from view, but perhaps the viewer could help in some way.

Adams is a researcher in the Griffith Lab, and has been at Brandeis only a year. She spends her time studying circadian rhythms at work, and studies memory. She enjoys “rambunctious creativity” and “quiet book reading” while her artwork “explores the evolution of the individual in the context of a changing environment.” Her drawings are plain, and may remind audiences of Tim Burton cartoons like “Coraline” and “Nightmare Before Christmas.” One of her drawings depicts a woman looking down, holding a stuffed teddy bear behind her back. The earth glows above her, and the drawing prompts a feeling of intense isolation and abandonment in the viewer. They are simple drawings, but very moving all the same.

Another bright moment came with the work of Katherine Lobo, adjunct professor of education at Brandeis. Her bio states that her books have been in museum and library collections for years and on display in Australia, Japan, China and the United States. Her piece on display, “China Exchange,” marks the 25th anniversary of her art studies at Tianjin Fine Art College. Lobo is known for her appreciation of other cultures. She speaks multiple languages, and in addition to her position at Brandeis she is also an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in the Belmont Public School system. Her art has a sense of worldliness that brings the viewer in.

Another interesting piece in the gallery is a sculpture created by Karen Klein. Klein is an associate professor of English and the Interdisciplinary Humanities (Emeritus) at Brandeis, since 1964. After teaching literature for 37 years, Klein turned her attention towards dancing and sculpture. The piece on display in Dreitzer is a warped piece of wood, aesthetically pleasing and fascinating for the eye to look at, given some parts of it are flat and others are wound and branching. In one spot, the bark is even peeled off. “Wood is one of the materials with which I work,” stated Klein in her bio. The sculpture, titled “What Remains” is made of “bittersweet, fish skeleton and a slice of a hardwood tree … the sculpture reminds us that something beautiful and meaningful can be made even of leavings.”

Other remarkable artists on display include Department Coordinator of the Computer Science Department Katie Marchese, Senior Research Technician at Rosenstiel Research Center Quiqin Wu and Professor of Psychology Mick Watson.

This exhibit is a must see for Brandeis students, as it illustrates a passionate, creative side of professors and staff at Brandeis that students are not usually privy too. It is proof that people who are not professors of art can still be artists, and that having art as a hobby can lead to fruitful results.

This exhibit will remain on view on the Dreitzer Gallery until Oct. 26.