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Creative Motivations

IPFW Faculty and Advanced Students show

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader


Often overlooked is the great talent bound in our local art schools. Both at the High School and University level, we not only have proficient teachers of the arts, but also excellent makers as well.

IPFW's School of Visual and Performing Arts has the strongest history of artistic excellence in our community, as it is the direct outgrowth of the former Fort Wayne Arts Institute, formerly located in a number of homes in the West Central neighborhood downtown, which originated in 1888. Once the Art Institute merged with IPFW in 1991, its faculty and artistic legacy moved with it. Over the last couple decades, IPFW's faculty has proven itself as both capable and professional in that it has long held faculty which are represented by galleries in significant art centers such as New York City and Chicago.

"Creative Motivations" is an exhibition including the departments of Fine Arts, Interior Design, and Visual Communication and Design (VCD) of IPFW's Visual and Performing Arts School. This work was collected for an official visit of the accrediting body, NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design(. This is important because once IPFW passes the accreditation process, both it and the University of Saint Francis SOCA program will be accredited, moving our arts community that much closer in gaining momentum and pushing forward to receiving terminal degrees (MA and MFA) in the arts.

The only disappointment in this exhibition is IPFW's lack of more dedicated gallery space, as it uses the small transitory space what is essentially the lobby of the arts building to hold its large number of faculty which have significant works deserving of more space in which to be viewed. Upon first glance "Creative Motivations" is a visual smorgasbord representing everything from large scale ceramic sculpture, textile work, graphic design, and detailed graphite drawings. Upon closer inspection, the viewer finds vignettes representing each department, and sometimes breathtaking examples of their individual artistic practices.

While every academic program includes standout professors, IPFW has consistently achieved a harmony between disciplines, with a core standout set of professors representing multiple paths for their students to take, not allowing their programming to imbalanced toward one media. The four pillars of IPFW's fine arts include Audrey Ushenko (painting/drawing), John Hrehov (painting/drawing), Dana Goodman (ceramic/sculpture), and Christopher Ganz (drawing/printmaking). Their strong foundation in the technical aspects of their chosen media, as well as their representation in the art world at large, make for a very marketable degree program, offering students glimpses of what it is like to be a working fine artist.

Ushenko's "Late Flowers" and Hrehov's "Font" are strong representations of the work that they are known for, and both are represented at Denise Bibro Fine Art. In Hrehov's image, we see perfect unity, symmetry, and the algorithmic certainty of a planned environment. In Ushenko's painting, we find the exact opposite, as the figures in her painting are set in a broiling environment of color and liquid form, oozing out of brushstrokes and pulling and propping themselves up like a dancer flowing through space to compose a final image.

Christopher Ganz's "Open and Shut" is a somewhat predictable representation of the print work he has shown locally, being the dichotomy between two faces one with glasses, one without, and one with a smile and the other without. This lithograph and woodcut image forces this viewer to recall Bruce Nauman's blank but commanding works like his neons and photographic explorations of the late 60s and early 70s. Ganz's work can be see at the Ann Nathan Gallery in Chicago, and has been seen locally in the Fort Wayne Museum of Art's Biennial.

Dana Goodman's work blends the role between ceramics and sculpture, as well as the world of contemporary fine art and our agrarian past and contemporary rural culture. "150 Left" is a near life sized representation of a swine head, connected to a veritable rube goldberg machine consisting of wood, more ceramic swine, feed, etc. The scale and complexity of Goodman's work allows it exist outside of the sometime strong confines of the ceramic world. His work can be seen through his affiliation with Oxford Gallery in Rochester NY.

Outside of this core group of IPFW's professors who have had strong presences both locally and nationally, "Creative Motivations" also highlights some of the associate professors who are less well known locally, like Natalie McChessney and her gorgous mixed media "Untitled," which is constructed of canvas, tracing paper, book-making paper, and pencil. This truly beautiful work creates a delicate, searing image in the viewers mind after they stare transfixed by the intricate detail of McChessney's drawing, and the overall ephemeral feeling that this piece provides. Like the fuzzy image your eye detects after looks straight into the sun or the phantom letters you can view by looking at a bright colored graphic image on a white piece of paper, "Untitled" pulls the viewer in and leaves them with a tacit memory of the experience.

Through "Creative Motivations," IPFW's Visual and Performing School of Arts and their fine art and design departments specifically, have undeniably demonstrated their importance to the local arts community. By fostering the talents of both tried and true artistic tallest, and well as nurturing younger professors and artists, this university continues the legacy it received from the Fort Wayne Art Institute as being a core of our city's way of thinking, representation, and response to the world around it.

For More Information:
"Creative Motivations"
Now through April 1, 2014

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.