Art and design faculty show their stuff

Anthony Viola

Every two years, the white walls of the DeVos Art Museum welcome art from some of the most important people in the art department: the faculty.

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This year marks the third iteration of the show, aptly named “NMU Art and Design Faculty Biennial.”

Open now, the show runs until Sunday, Feb. 22.

The show features 23 artists, all current or retired faculty in the art and design department.

DeVos Art Museum Director and Curator Melissa Matuscak created the biennial show six years ago.

Before the establishment of the biennial, faculty shows were few and far between.

“We’ve always had faculty shows, but they’re hit or miss,” retired Associate Dean and Director of Art and Design Michael Cinelli said. “Maybe 10 years goes by where there’s no show, so Melissa [Matuscak] said we are going to do this every two years.”

Matuscak feels it is easy to forget that the art and design faculty are all working artists and she wants to shed light on the work that is being made at NMU.

“They have great ideas, and I think the work they are making is definitely worthy of a museum show,” she said. “I wanted to implement something that would happen on a regular basis so it would become part of the culture at the university.”

This show provides students firsthand exposure to the work of their professors.

Matuscak sees the show as a way to bring the faculty and students closer together.

“I think it develops a deeper respect and a deeper connection between the student and the faculty member,” she said. “The faculty are mentors for the students and part of being a mentor is sharing yourself and sharing               your talent.”

Assistant professor of photography Christine Lenzen said it is important for students to see the faculty’s work.

“Going through school,” Lenzen said, “and learning under people that are in the trade that you want to go into and being able to see what they are making is an invaluable experience.”

The student-faculty connection can affect a person for a lifetime.

“When I’m making images [the professors I had as a student] are still in my head,” Cinelli said, “still, 40 years later, 50 years later.”

Another show being housed within the confines of the DeVos at the same time is the student driven “ArtLab3.”

“It is fun to see the juxtaposition of the faculty work and the student work, not in the same space, but in the same museum,” Matuscak said. “Because our faculty work so close with the students, you have a lot of inspiration that gets passed back and forth.”

The opening reception for both “ArtLab3” and the faculty show is 6 – 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16 at the DeVos.

“The reception for this is always really fun,” Matuscak said. “It is usually the best party that we have.”