Outside the classroom, the art professors at American River College are talented working artists making a name for themselves through gallery exhibitions.
Some of those professors are currently featured in a group show at the E Street Gallery near Midtown. The ARC Faculty/Staff Art Exhibition runs through February.
During the opening reception on Feb. 9, music professors Dyne Eifertsen and Steve Lishman played their trombone and tenor saxophone respectively, treating artists and patrons to an improvisational jazz duet.
On the walls of the gallery hangs the work of ARC art professors Jodie Hooker, Craig Smith, Valerie Constantino, Craig Martinez and many more.
Hooker, a photography professor, displayed landscape photographs made using a tri-color dichromate over cyanotype. The alternative printing process involves making multiple exposures of a single photograph and painting over the photograph as many as 13 times to create the color in the piece. The result is a photograph that has undefined borders, where the foliage depicted could easily grow beyond its frame and envelope the studio walls in its subtle tints.
“I believe that nature speaks,” Hooker said.
Another ARC photography professor, Brandy Worsfold, is also featured in the exhibition, but not for her photography. Six months ago, a flood in her apartment damaged Worsfold’s cameras and photographs extensively, forcing her to find a new way to express her artistry and to relieve stress. She used her yoga certification and love of animals to make watercolor and ink drawings of cats and dogs in various yoga poses.
“A watercolor of dogs in plow pose is certainly not very high-brow, but it makes me happy, and it’s an honest reflection of where I’m at right now,” Worsfold said.
Some of the artists in the show also have a workspace within the gallery. Ceramics professor Linda Gelfman has a large studio packed with her clay sculptures and her more recent work with textile. The textile sculptures are colorful and large in scale. The freestanding “Wooly Asawa” in the front room of the E Street Gallery is reminiscent of a page from a Dr. Seuss book come to life. The fabric seems to float in the air of its own accord, being pulled to the ceiling in a wave.
While Gelfman holds space in the gallery for a studio, artists like adjunct professor Elise Weber are hopeful for her own workspace in the gallery.
Weber teaches photography, and since moving from Houston, Texas, says she hasn’t had enough room in her apartment for her photography and needed to change her method of capturing moments. The drawings included in the show were made with oil bars, using harsh lines and color theory to create a dissonant piece that captures the emotion of the pieces. A piece titled, “And She is Friendly” depicts an abstracted portrait of a woman whose tilted head is split down the middle by green and yellow and has a smile that is too big for her face.
“With this work I’m really stepping outside my comfort zone to use color to become more active,” Weber said.
Valerie Constantino, who teaches design at ARC, used photography to depict the first four images in a series of work titled “Signposts.” The work is based on the story of Otto and Elise Hampel, a couple in Berlin, Germany, during the Nazi regime who wrote anti-fascist slogans on picture postcards and placed them in public areas.
Constantino used handmade 3.5-by-5 inch paper on which she wrote and embossed in braille a socially relevant word, such as “Reason” or “Veracity” and placed them in public places throughout Sacramento. She then photographed the pieces of paper and printed them out, showing the landscape of the area in which it was placed and a close-up of the paper itself.
“In my drawing class we’re talking a lot about composition, and what does that mean?” Constantino said. “You want [the content and form] to relate, to fold into each other.”
At the end of the reception, Eifertsen and Lishman provided musical accompaniment to a performance of spoken word poetry by English professor Traci Gourdine, who talked about her experiences teaching prisoners how to write poetry, her experiences as a mother and her disconnection with the advancement of technology.
Global studies major Lenin Rubio takes classes with Gourdine and Gelfman and says he heard about the show through them. He decided to come to the show with a friend to see the work of his professors.
“It’s amazing to see their work being displayed like this,” Rubio said. “It’s a very impressive body of work.”
The E Street Gallery is located in Sacramento at 1115 E Street and is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The ARC Faculty/Staff Art Exhibition will be on display through February 28.