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UI artists present paintings, 3D art off campus

BY CLAIRE DIETZ | JANUARY 29, 2015 5:00 AM

 
 
 
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Artist Halle Siepman likes a good challenge. Whether crafting delicate line drawings or large graphic paintings (or a combination of both), she harnesses a variety of materials on slick surfaces to create what she dubs “architectural imaginations.”

“I use all of these [media] to create balances and also create tension, because watercolor is so unforgiving and so spontaneous and hard to control, whereas oils are very forgiving and are easily manipulated,” said Siepman, a University of Iowa graduate student in art.

Work by Siepman and nine other M.F.A. candidates and art faculty members are showcased in the Luce Gallery at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. The exhibition, among others around Iowa and the United States, helps UI artists gain recognition off campus.

The Graduate and Faculty Showcase started as the brainchild of Sue Hettmansperger, a UI professor of art, reached Mount Vernon at the invitation of Susan Coleman, the gallery coordinator at Cornell College.

“I thought about several different scenarios,” Hettmansperger said. “A show of my paintings or a show of important women artists in the area, or a show of the six graduating M.F.A.s in painting and drawing, with members of the faculty in this program included. I decided on the latter.”

The artists and their works opened in the Luce Gallery on Jan. 18 and will be on display through March 1.

Siepman said the event has helped her art to take on a life of its own.

“Sue [Hettmansperger] was trying to give us exposure, to give us work and express ourselves,” Siepman said. “I think it is such a lovely gesture, because not only is our work up in the gallery, but because of social media, my art is far more reaching than I could ever control. I have people contacting me, and they comment on it. This allows me to build on this dream of being an artist.”

Fellow M.F.A. candidate Lizzy Schule — who has a series of portraits, self-portraits, landscapes, and still-life paintings displayed in the Luce Gallery — said she had always felt a strong pull to be an artist and was thankful for the opportunity to share her work.

“I think that since I was a kid, I enjoyed three things: listening to music, observing things around me, and drawing,” she said. “So I used to sit and draw for hours from observation, and I never really gave it up … Sue wanted to give the M.F.A. students the opportunity to show their work with other faculty members, and I was happy to participate.”

This isn’t the only off-campus opportunity M.F.A. students have had this month. Recently, Associate Professor Monica Correia, the head of the 3D design program at the UI School of Art and Art History, led several students who won the CONNECT competition at SOFA CHICAGO, the world-renowned art fair dedicated to functional art and design. The winning design is being displayed at CSPS in Cedar Rapids through Feb. 4.

“The CONNECT competition required the students to design a space to interact with the people who visited,” Correia said. “It had to have a sitting area and spaces that highlight the students’ work. The design of the space was initiated by two graduate students and an undergraduate student.”

The design team grew to 13 students, both graduate and undergraduate. Chuck Romans, an M.F.A. candidate in 3D design, was responsible for rendering the design in order to begin the building process.

“I was requested by Monica when we applied for the exhibition … I put the design into a 3D software and created a scene and brought it into the shop to get an idea of what the booth would look like upon completion,” he said. “Kind of as a visual perspective for everyone to see … A big challenge was taking it from concept to putting it together.”

In the end, the design space won the competition over submissions from the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Pratt Institute, the University of California-Davis, the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

Outside of Iowa, art work by UI M.F.A. graduate Tomás Lasansky and his late father, Mauricio Lasansky, will be featured at the Snite Art Museum at the University of Notre Dame through March 15. The late Lasansky was a UI professor of art for 40 years. The father/son exhibition will feature drawn and painted portraits, often of historical figures such Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, and Jesus Christ.

While débuting their work out in the “real world” leaves it open to criticism, Siepman said, it is an important step in an artist’s often confusing career.

“I think that you always will go back with what you want to do in life, and sometimes we waver, and we go down a certain path, and we’re not sure to go right, left, or straight,” she said. “But I think you have to do some introspection — you have to write down your goals and stick to them and not listen too much to commentary about your work. If you know what you are doing is true and right and genuine, [then] you owe it to yourself to do what you love.”


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