Faculty Biennial Exhibit inspired


Photo creds: Kelly Hueckman / The Advance-Titan — The Faculty Biennial Exhibit highlights the work of the UW Oshkosh Art Department faculty at the Allen Priebe Gallery.

Kelly Hueckman, Opinion Editor

The faculty of UW Oshkosh’s art department are kicking off the semester by showcasing their own work until Oct. 6 in the Allen Priebe Gallery, located in the Arts and Communication Center.

“This might be the only time art students get to see what the faculty make,” said Craig Clifford, a sculpture professor at UWO.

Clifford currently has his own work on display in Priebe, a detailed sculpture, “Sultan”, composed of birds and various other species of wildlife. 

Clifford, an avid birder on top of being an artist, said he was inspired by his experience in nature and his affinity for collecting objects. 

“These pieces are about nature, but also a collection of objects,” he said. “Sculpting is a way for me to collect without bringing these objects home.”

Trina Smith, who teaches painting, showcased one of the larger pieces in the collection; an oil painting depicting the mountains of Montana. 

Trina Smith’s painting, “Pandemic: Longing for the Mountains 4” at the Allen Priebe Art Gallery.

Smith said her painting, “Pandemic: Longing for the Mountains 4”, was inspired by warped images she saw through a glass privacy block during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

“When we were in lockdown…I had the idea of taking images of my apartment through a privacy block,” she said. “The block became a metaphor for the distortion of reality I was feeling and the strange reality of being in my apartment for weeks on end.”

Smith said she pushed the boundaries of what she wanted to see through the block to better illustrate her experience of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I expanded to broader ideas of the pandemic experience,” she said. “One of those things was the mountains where I grew up in Montana.”

She said she gravitated toward her hometown after feeling isolated from socialization.

“Since we were deprived of typical things that bring joy such as socializing and social settings in general, my deep rooted longing for the landscape of my youth became more present on my mind.” 

Trish Kopish, another UWO art professor, currently has two oil pastel paintings on display, which she said depicts a waterscape she saw on Highway 1.

“The beaches had pieces of driftwood stacked in natural structures,” she said. “I thought that the view through the rock formation against the blue ocean created an odd angle. I am intrigued by juxtaposing shapes and wanted to incorporate that into a piece of artwork.”

Kopish said that creating this piece was a new challenge for her.

“The oil pastel on canvas was new to me,” she said. “I usually use paper for this media, so, for me, it was a learning experience.”

Kopish said that she hopes this exhibit reminds students that even professional artists experience challenges while trying new media and techniques.

“My hope is that students see that just because we teach does not mean that we don’t struggle and work through challenges to still be creative beings,” she said. “Displaying our ideas, talents and vulnerabilities leaves us open to honest discussion.”

Other professors have also said they are keen on showing their students their artwork.

Smith said that it was important to remind students that on top of teaching, professors also continue to be involved in their field.

“I think it is important for students to realize that professors (in all areas), in addition to teaching, are also practicing in their field,” she said. “The faculty show allows students to see examples of professors’ ongoing work and have dialogue about it.”

Clifford said that the faculty show can allow students to learn more about their professors and what types of classes they can take.

“When I was a student, I always loved the faculty exhibits and getting to know more about my teachers,” he said. “Non-art students can also see what types of art classes are offered and hopefully become interested in taking those classes.”

The faculty show will be open for viewing during Allen Priebe Gallery’s normal hours until Oct. 6.