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Dalhousie’s art exhibit shows creative side of students, faculty, and alumni

Paintings, photography, sculptures, jewelry – the list of art featured in the exhibit goes on and on. 55 different artists filled the Dalhousie Art Gallery for the 64th Annual Student, Staff, Faculty and Alumni Exhibition.

According to Peter Dykhuis, the Curator/Director of the art gallery says that many of the artists participate every year.

The event opening was full of people browsing through and appreciating all the work put into the exhibit.

“I think it’s great. It’s so fun, to walk around and see the different faculties and all the different types of art, it’s great,” says Michaela Purdon, a fourth-year neuroscience student at Dalhousie.

She heard about the exhibit through two students in one of her classes who both entered pieces. Many of the information cards have alumni or faculty written on it with only a few students sprinkled in.


New and returning artists 

Catherine Bagnell Styles is Dalhousie University’s assistant vice-president of communication and marketing; she’s entered pieces three times. And this year, she delivered an opening speech for the event.

“You’re always kind of a little scared because you’re putting your work out in front of people you work with,” she says. “So it’s a little exercise in vulnerability and courage.”

This year she entered the smallest piece in the exhibit: a four-by-five-inch acrylic painting of a tree blowing in the wind.

“I just fell in love with the tree,” she says.

Multicoloured leaves adorn the tree. Orange, yellow, red and green are all shown in the tiny painting.

She had tried to paint it before, but this is the only one she loved.

Pieces that the artists feel passionate about seemed to be the trend for the evening.

Sue Rosson, a Dalhousie alumna, felt the same passion for her piece.

She entered a pastel work titled Blue Eyes. It’s a portrait piece of a close friend who has bright blue eyes.

She’s only been working in pastels for the past year. She and a friend decided to take a course on pastels; she’d always worked in acrylics previously. In the last couple weeks of the course they did portraits, which is where Blue Eyes was created.

Rosson’s mother was a portrait painter, which made this piece a special one.

It’s Rosson’s first time entering a piece in the exhibit, and it was because of her friend’s influence. She’s modest about her work, saying how in awe she is of the other featured artists.

Rosson shares Bagnell Styles nerves when it comes to sharing their art.

Rosson is unsure whether she will enter again. But if there’s another piece she’s proud of, it’s a possibility.


Unique design opportunity 


Curator/Director, Dykhuis looks forward to this exhibit every year as it creates a challenge.

It’s not a “curated” exhibit. Instead his job is to design.

Curating typically means chasing after and acquiring different pieces, meaning that Dykhuis picks what is wanted for the space. This exhibit accepts all pieces submitted, so he describes it as creating music or playing scrabble.

He tries to create a cohesive feel for the space.

Placing similar works together achieves this cohesiveness: he places unframed works by each other, photography in the same area, and similar subject matter together.

It’s subtle things, like placing driftwood beside paintings of natural scenes. But it makes it easier for visitors to comprehend the space.

Dykhuis says that the Dalhousie Art Gallery lends itself well to this type of show because the layout creates interest. Instead of being just one room, visitors move through the space in a circle with alcoves along the way.

If the gallery space were a big square, it would be much more difficult, according to Dykhuis. He would have to create excitement and cohesion.


Part of a bigger picture


“I guess this isn’t per se part of the 200th program,” says Bagnell Styles. “But It’s happening during the 200 so I think that everything that’s happening in 2018 somehow feels like it’s a part of the celebration.”

Rosson is excited about the celebrations to come this year.

“I have a long association with Dal. I was a graduate twice-over, my husband taught at Dal for 31 years, both my sons graduated from Dal,” she says. “Dal is just a big part of my life.”


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