By Mary Margaret Sparks

Entire contents are copyright © 2012 Mary Margaret Sparks. All rights reserved. 

Being a Georgetown College Alumnus, I love going back to my alma mater to touch base with my professors and see the new students’ work. When I heard about On the SoFA, I was intrigued by the idea of the exhibition and was curious to see what students around the state were creating. In my own experience as an art student, I experienced how disconnected and insulated art departments can sometimes be. It wasn’t until I was living in Louisville that I met other graduates from other schools and began to form relationships with young artists outside of Georgetown College. On the SoFA has helped to breach the barrier between art departments and has brought current undergraduate art students together from a variety of fields. 

On the SoFA: State of Fine Art is an exhibition showcasing one to two works of art by undergraduate visual art students nominated by art faculty from several of Kentucky’s post-secondary education institutions. [taken from exhibition gallery guide] The exhibition features a variety of work including film, textiles, printmaking, painting, glass, woodworking and more.  

Jay Ludden installation at SoFA. Photo by Mary Margaret Sparks.

The overall exhibition makes a strong impression. Many of the works were reminiscent of something I would see in a gallery on East Market Street in downtown Louisville.  As I looked around the room, I immediately noticed an on-site installation by artist Jay Ludden from Lindsey Wilson College consisting of a fleet of paper boats made from maps of Ohio. The boats prevent the viewer from getting to the wall of empty envelopes where each envelope reads ‘Open me first.’ The work is a thought-provoking representation of the relationship between people and their communities.

“I’m interested in exploring what makes spaces unique, both in terms of culture and environment as well as the common threads that connect people and communities here on the Earth we all share.” [from Jay Ludden’s artist statement]

Faville Donahue, From Callow to Callused.
Photo by Mary Margaret Sparks.

So much high-quality work was present in this exhibition that I wish I could write about all of it. A few works did stand out to me though, and I think they are worth noting. “From Callow to Callused” by Faville Donahue (University of Kentucky) is a leather-and-steel sculpture representing the heart in nine stages. The hearts appear patched together to form built-up layers and scarring and serve as a metaphor for the nine months of pregnancy.

“There are many things that happen over a lifetime that can change the condition of the heart. There can be a softening or a hardening; these evolutions may not be permanent, and a heart can even oscillate between the two depending on with whom or what the emotion is entwined.” [from Faville Donahue’s artist statement]

“Born” by University of Louisville Philip Rodriguez is a blown-glass sculpture focusing on conditions of the human mind. “Underbelly” by Jenni Dickens (Western Kentucky University) represents “…the disconnect between our minds and physical selves” [taken from artist’s statement], while Morehead State University Cecily Howard’s work explores the realms of imagination through printmaking. Her “China colle” shows a young girl in a dark fantastical world surrounded by small creatures, or minions. The slightly eerie aspect of the work reinforces the dark imagery we often imagine ourselves. The narrative of a young girl looks back to childhood and the vast imagination that children express.

The opening reception featured a panel discussion that included Becky Alley from the Lexington Art League, Peter Morrin from the University of Louisville and Charla Reed from the Kentucky Arts Council. The participants spoke about opportunities for the artists, encouraging them to get involved through volunteering and submitting their work for exhibitions. Awards were then given to Seth Ernest from Asbury College for 2D art, James Webb from Eastern Kentucky for 3D art, and James Webb from Eastern Kentucky University for best overall.

James Webb, Crackle Teapot. Photograph by Darrell Kincer.

Afterwards, James Webb from Eastern Kentucky University spoke to several of us about his work “Scrumptiously Nostalgic, a crackle ceramic teapot small and delicate in appearance but completely functional. Webb explained that he is fascinated by textures, and close inspection of the piece prompted particular appreciation for his meticulous attention to detail.

It was encouraging to see most of the participating student artists as well as many art professors in attendance at the opening. I was further heartened to see the students talking with one another about their work. This exhibition fostered a much-needed atmosphere of creativity and communication among art departments as well as memorable work by emerging artists. On the SoFA is a must-see for anyone interested in the future of Kentucky art.

In 2011, Georgetown College hosted State of Drawing (SOD) featuring works by faculty from post-secondary institutions in Kentucky. For 2012, art department faculty from post-secondary institutions nominated one or two students for On the SoFA. In 2013, Georgetown College will host State of Sculpture (SOS), featuring artwork by faculty from post-secondary institutions.

Represented institutions included Asbury College, Bellarmine University, Berea College, Centre College, Eastern Kentucky University, Georgetown College Lindsey Wilson College, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University, Transylvania University, University of the Cumberlands, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University.

November 30, 2012–January 4, 2013

Georgetown College

Anne Wright Wilson Fine Arts Gallery

For more information, contact Laura Stewart:

James Webb Crackle Teapot photograph courtesy of Darrell Kincer.

Other photographs courtesy of Mary Margaret Sparks.