From Oct. 9 to Nov. 13, Anderson University was the host of a visiting artist’s exhibition that showcased the work of three AU alumni who have earned success in their specific areas of art. The artists were Betsy Barnum, who focuses on printmaking; Trent Miller, who concentrates on painting; and David Schnuckel, who is a glass artist.
Betsy Barnum graduated from AU in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and completed a Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2006. In 2007, she received a $10,000 grant to fund the creation of her own work, which later toured the Midwest. She currently resides in Seattle, Wash., where she rents a studio to create her own work and also rents space at a printmaking shop to teach etching workshops. Barnum’s experiences include participating in exhibitions and showing her work across the United States and in Canada.
Barnum credits Anderson University for contributing to her success. “I learned valuable career, writing, and communication skills which continue to be invaluable as a practicing artist,” said Barnum. AU allowed her to integrate her love for art with her interests in writing and history. From this, she “received the basis of learning how to see, write, and communicate as an artist and as an intelligent person.”
Barnum's exhibition pieces included work completed from 2008 through August 2010. The inspiration for most of these pieces came from her daily life and various experiences. She particularly enjoys patterns, which were displayed in her small bird and figure pieces at the gallery. Those pieces took two to three hours to complete and allowed her to experiment with composition. “All of the work is a type of narrative that explores my daily life and emotional struggles,” said Barnum. “The pieces themselves are meant to evoke a singular moment or feeling, and then work with the others in the series to form the deeper story of life.”
Trent Miller earned a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Boston University after graduating from AU in 1999 with a degree in visual arts. After graduate school, he began teaching art at various schools and is currently at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. His exhibition experience includes many group and solo exhibitions over the years in various cities.
The Anderson University exhibition was his first show conducting critiques and giving an artist’s talk, where an artist simply presents different pieces to the audience and discusses the meanings behind them. “I’ve done each of these things, but not all at the same time, so this extended kind of visit is a first for me,” Miller said.
AU played a role in helping Miller become an artist outside of the university setting. “I would especially like to point to the continued help from Professor Kathleen Dugan,” he said. “It was her encouragement at AU and in years to come that convinced me I could actually be a working artist.”
Miller looked to interesting outside sources to influence some of his exhibition pieces; although, he stated that it’s not always about the inspiration. “For me, it’s about getting into the studio every day and working, working, working. When you do this, good things will happen,” Miller said. All of his pieces took between one month and one year to complete. Three of the featured pieces at the exhibition were Oh Philip, referencing the painter Philip Guston; INRI, a mix of transfiguration and crucifixion paintings found in the Russian Icon painting tradition; and The Burial of Andrei Tarkovsky, a tribute to the Russian filmmaker of the same name. “Each of these three pieces pays homage to someone or something that I hold dear,” Miller said.
David Schnuckel graduated from AU in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. He then completed his Master of Fine Arts at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y. He worked with the Kokomo Opalescent Glass production studio and taught as an adjunct professor within the art department at Alfred University in New York. He currently resides in Rochester and is a visiting assistant faculty member at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Schnuckel is continually developing his own work and showing it both nationally and internationally. His first solo exhibition was this past summer in Brooklyn, N.Y. It was well accepted and reviewed in an international glass publication that has opened the door for more exhibitions in the near future. One thing Schnuckel appreciates about AU’s Art and Design department is its emphasis on writing. In his professional career, he has had to submit many written pieces.
“Being introduced to the rigors of using the written word to analyze personal thought, opinion, and observation early on has made a lot of the scholarly aspects of being a professional artist and educator that much easier,” he said. It also gives him a professional edge when applying for jobs, receiving grants, and seeking gallery representation.
The pieces Schnuckel chose to display for the Visiting Artist’s Exhibition were also used for his solo exhibition over the summer. “It’s a body of work that investigates the use of imagery and the written word within a sculptural context," he said. “It reinterprets the historical practice of glass painting and portraiture in what I think is both personally and contemporarily relevant.”
Some of the pieces took only a few days to create while others took several weeks. All of the pieces in his showcase served as a reevaluation of “personal mishap and misjudgment,” meaning he took old discarded glass and turned it into something with “renewed vitality and purpose.” This served as the tying bind between all of the pieces in his collection.
The three artists featured at the exhibition have different mediums, techniques, and artistic processes, and the diversity represented in their works demonstrates the variety of opportunity that AU’s Art and Design department has to offer.
— Alyssa Applegate is a junior from Dayton, Ohio, majoring in communication arts and minoring in Spanish. Applegate is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.