Gallery pairs art inspired by mentor relationships


“Catalyst: Leaving a Lasting Impression” opened at the Lore Degenstein Gallery on Jan. 17.
The gallery, featuring the work of 36 artists from around the country, focused on comparing the work of mentors and their mentees. Curated by Susquehanna alumna Brooke Garlick, the gallery is arranged so the pieces are paired based on the artists’ connections. Each collection includes a “blurb” as Garlick called it, explaining the relationship between the mentor and mentee.
On the exhibition title, Garlick explained, “As some of you probably know, a catalyst is something that initiates a rapid change in an event, something, a situation, and we saw that really fitting to this show in regards to leaving a lasting impression and what that means in regards to a mentorship.”
Garlick said that the mentor relationships do not necessarily mean a formal setting between a student and professor. A mentor can be informal such as a peer influencing a peer or a model influencing a student.
Associate Professor of Art Ann Piper, whose work was included in the show, said: “The idea of a mentorship to me is a lot more encompassing. It’s more interpersonal.”
She continued that it is more about the person, not about teaching a technique or teaching how to do x, y and z.
Piper’s oil painting was hung on the back wall of the gallery. The painting, part of a series called He Loves Me, She Loves Me Not, is a self-portrait of Piper eating flowers.
Piper said that the painting was inspired by the tradition of tearing the petals off of flowers to reveal whether “he loves me, he loves me not.”
Piper noted that when the flower does not reveal what you hoped for, a person reacts by getting another flower. She said, “You just keep going until you get the answer you want.”
She said that she blended this idea with an idea called sin eating. It is a practice in which someone, typically an outcast, is paid to eat food from someone’s body when they have died in order to eat the sin out of their body, allowing them to go to heaven.
Piper said: “I’m interested in superstition and ritual and people’s habits. Investigating superstitions is kind of my hobby.”
Senior Abby Johnson has three paintings hung beside Piper’s.
Johnson said these pieces, all featuring children’s faces, were inspired by students that Johnson taught while studying abroad in Ghana. They are painted with oil on Ghanaian African fabrics.
Johnson said that when she returned from studying abroad, she took an independent study with Piper. Johnson said, “Ann has taught me to never fear painting and let it intimidate you.”
Johnson, who regularly paints landscapes, animals, scenes and still lifes, decided to paint people for the first time for this project. She said that she admired Piper’s ability to paint figures.
The gallery also featured six figurative paintings by Garlick. She said the oil paintings feature five women in her life and one self-portrait. Each woman is structured like a column, inspiring the title, “Caryatid: Affinity,” of the series. She said she based the paintings on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a psychology concept that explains human needs that must be fulfilled such as safety, love and self-actualization.
Garlick said that she was a psychology major until she took her first collegiate art class her senior year with Piper. According to Garlick, Piper has taught her the freedom to express herself with paint in any way that she wants and to not follow any rules.
She said: “She really inspired me to do whatever I wanted to do. I decided to go with not pursuing a psychology profession.” She is currently working toward becoming an art professor.
The exhibit will close Feb. 22.