Former East Carolina University art professors will return to campus for the reception of the Celebration of Excellence exhibition tomorrow evening from 5 to 8:30 p.m. located at the Wellington B. Gray Gallery.
The exhibition will feature works of art from all mediums produced by the retired faculty to commemorate their years of service to East Carolina, as well as a tribute to former professors who have passed on.
The exhibit will also serve as an opportunity for current students to receive a glimpse into older methods of producing art. The idea came about two years ago, when the staff for the gallery went through proposals for future exhibitions, according to curator of the Gray Gallery, Maria Modlin.
“We had gone through proposals and one was for retired faculty. We reached out to our living retired faculty and asked if they wanted to participate, and 20 out of 26 agreed to be in the show,” said Modlin.
Unfortunately, two of those former faculty members passed away in the intervening period, and a portion of the show has been turned into a tribute to their memories.
Modlin also noted that student feedback has been positive, and that alumni have come from as far as Florida to attend last year’s show.
For former educators, the show is a chance to reflect on their time at ECU and how times have changed since their retirement. Former art professor Norman Keller, whose work will be featured in the exhibit, expressed his opinion on how art styles have changed over the years.
“It’s a very dynamic situation in terms of what goes on now,” Keller said. “A lot of material comes from computers, and it’s a whole different ball game. I like collecting iron materials and spending a week using a sledgehammer to break them down.”
Keller retired from ECU in 1993 and also reflected on the University’s history as one of the leading art schools in the nation.
“There was a time when the School of Arts was one of the best in the Southeast. It was oriented toward things that demanded a lot of hand-eye coordination. Students aren’t really interested in that type of thing anymore,” Keller said.
However, Keller was optimistic that students would come away from the exhibition inspired by those who came before.
Christine Zoller, a more recent retiree, expressed hope that the show would allow people to see how the education that ECU provides causes people to grow internally.
“If you have people that are giving back to your community, it makes ECU well known and lets parents know that their children can be successful,” Zoller said. “ECU fosters those opportunities in our students because of the knowledge we give them.”
Zoller also elaborated more on the exhibition, commenting that it “gives the students the opportunity to see their professors as working artists. We’re a lot like them in many ways, and we have different points of view that we communicate in our work.”
The exhibition is on view at Gray Gallery located in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center on central campus until September 20th at 7:00 p.m.