The staff at the School of Art and the Strohl and Fowler-Kellogg Art Centers spend their days at Chautauqua teaching, leading gallery tours, setting up exhibitions and ensuring Chautauquans, students and emerging artists have an enriching visual arts experience.
This afternoon, Chautauquans will get a glimpse of what they do when they’re off the clock.
From 1 to 5 p.m. Monday, July 22 on the front porch of Strohl Art Center, Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution will be hosting the first School of Art and Gallery Staff pop up show.
More than 10 VACI staff members will be exhibiting and selling their pieces at the show, which has been coordinated by School of Art Manager Chip McCall and VACI Concierge Hannah McBroom.
“The objective in our mind was to provide an opportunity for some of the staff that work here to show what they do when they’re not working here,” McCall said. “Everyone who is involved with some level of administration or staff does have a practice and has a studio. … Basically, we’re all artists who also happen to work here.”
McCall, who will have some of his own pieces in the show, said his artistic influences are constantly in flux.
“(I enjoy) digging through subcultures that I either have experience with, or that I have observed,” he said. “I take a lot of notes, I print a lot of pictures. … My internet search history is probably criminal.”
He said that in his work, he tries to examine cultural contradictions around masculinity and identity, including his experiences growing up in North Carolina.
“I’ve always been interested in the weird contradictory relationship we have with the underbelly of our culture, … all these molds or structures that people build their identities around, (and) our relationship with the problematic aspects of that.”
Elise G. Renfrow is a Young Faculty in Ceramics instructor at the School of Art. She is currently earning her B.F.A. at the University of Cincinnati.
Renfrow will be selling a variety of ceramics and sculptures, including teapots, vessels, tumblers and mugs. She is excited for the opportunity to showcase her work.
“Having the chance to show off my own skills that I can’t always exhibit in my classroom is really great,” she said.
Much of her ceramic work utilizes geometric shapes, something she said has been an interesting challenge.
“How do you make geometric forms comfortable in the hand?” she said. “That’s something I’ve been really exploring this summer while I’ve been here, is how do I make (them) comfortable, stackable, functional.”
Besides exhibiting her own pieces, Renfrow said she is looking forward to seeing what the other VACI staff will bring.
“Especially (for) those that I’m not around all the time,” she said, “having that opportunity to see what they are doing, networking and getting inspired by the other faculty here — it’s great.”
Raoul Pacheco teaches ceramics at Augusta University. At the School of Art he assists the students and emerging artists as a ceramics specialist and visiting artist.
He will be selling a number of ceramic vessels today, including sculpted heads, thrown and altered bottles and ceramic cups.
“I started off as a potter,” Pacheco said. “I went to grad school; they turned me into a figurative ceramic artist, but I refused to let go of the potter’s wheel as my main tool because that’s where I could relax and focus.”
He said his work is inspired by the idea of “otherness,” something that has been pervasive in his life.
“My practice is usually dealing with a lot of personal narrative(s), a lot of social issues embedded in that personal narrative,” he said. “There’s always a sense of ‘otherness’ creeping into my work, what it means to be ‘other.’ ”
He is excited for Chautauquans to see his pieces and hopes that the show will inspire further conversations between VACI and the rest of the Institution.
“I think it’s a really cool opportunity for those of us that are working up here in the summer to get our work exposed to the Chautauquan community,” Pacheco said. “I don’t know if most of us will ever make it to the inside walls of the gallery, because it’s a really kick-ass gallery, … so I really appreciate the opportunity to even show what I do in proximity to it.”