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Foster Gallery presents ‘Drawing Together’ faculty art exhibition

| Amanda Bulger

The Foster Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will present “Drawing Together,” an exhibition featuring artwork by faculty teaching in the art & design department. The exhibition will be on view from Feb. 2-March 6, with an opening reception from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1. All gallery events are free and open to the public.  

Gallery talks presented by Dr. Karen O’Day and Wanrudee Buranakorn, professors of art & design, will take place from 3-3:50 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, in Room 101 of the Haas Fine Arts Center. Presentations wll be: 

  • “The Illustrations of Rachel Carson’s ‘Sea Trilogy’: An ‘Active Exercise of the Imagination’” by Dr. Karen O’Day.
  • “‘New Chapter,’ My Process of Working With Image & Text” by Wanrudee Buranakorn.

The artists included in the exhibition are Amanda Bulger, Wanrudee Buranakorn, Ned Gannon, Mykola Haleta, Jyl Kelley, Ellen Mahaffy, Kathy Maves, JD McGuire, Jill Olm and CV Peterson.

Amanda Bulger started teaching at UW-Eau Claire in 2017. She will be exhibiting a small selection of digital drawings and mixed media sculptures inspired by the rhythms and routines of farm life. Bulger says, “My artwork resonates with the lifework of farming. As I watch my family and farming community grow older, I am fascinated with cycles of growth and loss, resilience and resignation.”

Wanrudee Buranakorn has been teaching at UW-Eau Claire since 2007. She will be exhibiting a collage of photographic image and text sourced from old books from the series “New Chapter.” Buranakorn says, “I write stories from existing words on pages of old books. On each page, I find words that speak to me as if they wanted to be revealed through my discovery. I claim these new-found words as my own by painting the page to speak the words with colors, patterns and brushstrokes. Words emerge out of the page to tell a new story. The figure joins in to tell her story. The resulting image is a narrative in multiple layers of words and images manifested in different forms of visual language to render a hidden story collected through time and memory.”

Ned Gannon has been teaching at UW-Eau Claire for 20 years and describes his role at the university as a curiosity promoter. He will be exhibiting two acrylic paintings as well as a selection of illustrations from his graphic novel. When addressing his painting “Every Stranger, Strange,r” Gannon stated, “I was thinking of how, once the pandemic was in full swing, I would walk my dog and I didn't know how to interact with people I would encounter. It was like meeting Bigfoot on the street — should I say hello or run? Every stranger became stranger.”

Mykola Haleta has been teaching at UW-Eau Claire for almost three years. He will be exhibiting pattern work as well as coordinating a sound performance for the opening reception. Mykola’s work utilizes improvisation, mathematics and rule sets in the development of new pattern systems, textiles, typography, performance and sound design. Haleta says, “The majority of my work is process based and focuses on pattern systems. My pattern-based work has been called “psychedelic industrial” and “harsh optical charged, ghost of Paolozzi-like patterns.” My sound work (electronic music) has been called “disorienting, hypnotizing, detailed and harsh.”

Jyl Kelley has been teaching at UW-Eau Claire for 15 years. She will be exhibiting Scent of Lilac,an installation/performance with photo fabrics, handmade garments and lilac wood. Expanding on her project, Kelley says, “I used the camera as a capturing device to document the intricate (otherwise unseen) beauty in an old-growth lilac shrub removed from my yard … In the heart of winter, I dug through a thick layer of snow to reach the lowermost point of this shrub and sawed through the very base. To my wonder, I discovered magenta-colored rings in the wood and a heavenly floral scent of lilac.” Kelley believes it is very important to experience nature as much as possible. “Be good to one another.”

Ellen Mahaffy has been teaching at UW-Eau Claire for 18 years. She will be exhibiting work generated from items left behind by her father and grandfather. Her photographs are used to tell a story of lives lost and memory. Mahaffy says, “This series of images revolve around by grandfather’s avocation, mineral collecting. My father, David, memorialized his father, Robert, by keeping his clothes, leaving signs of his vocation as a Presbyterian minister and his avocation as a mineral collector intact. I built a variety of the mineral cairns in the photo studio. If the cairn would fall, I would try again, eventually forgoing the cleanup of granules dispersed from falling. There is beauty in the marks left behind.”

Kathy Maves started teaching pottery at UW-Eau Claire in 2022. She will be exhibiting functional stoneware pottery decorated with colored slips. The pieces combine carved floral motifs and a muted palette of dark natural tones. Maves shared, “These pieces were fired in UWEC’s very old Bailey gas kiln. They may be among the last pieces that will be fired in the kiln. It has served our clay community faithfully since at least the early 1990s. No one knows how old it is. It has long outlived its expected service life. Our small ceramics program needs community support to replace the kiln and continue fulfilling its objective of ceramic arts education.”

JD McGuire started at UW-Eau Claire – Barron County in fall 2023. He will be exhibiting four paintings that pull from historical paintings and the stories associated with them. McGuire says, “I am interested in art history and my paintings are reactions to or comments on historical works.”

Jill Olm has been teaching at UW-Eau Claire since 2006. She will be exhibiting a series of acrylic and mixed media abstract paintings on panel that use abstraction to explore interconnections among diverse bodies of information, from systems of human exchange and communication to biological processes and synthetic structures. Olm says, “These works offer a balance of positive and negative, chaos and order, and unreliable patterning. I do not attempt to make these spaces harmonious, but rather embrace friction, tension and conflict. These paintings simultaneously reference the esoteric qualities of painting with the noise and glare of popular culture.”  

CV Peterson started working for UW-Eau Claire in 2019 in the Honors Program. They will be exhibiting a selection from their mycelium (fungus) works. Peterson says, “I sculpt with fungus. In particular, I sculpt with a fungus that comes from the environmentally focused company Ecovative Design that they use as a bio-alternative for Styrofoam. My work focuses on scientific research that revolves around climate change and environmental science with the aim to introduce it to an alternative audience. I am interested in green innovations and how the planet is adapting to the human-caused environmental devastation.”