By day, Penn Yan resident Carol Sackett manages the circulation desk at Lightner Library, a post she has held for 32 years. But through March 7, visitors to Keuka College can glimpse a different side of her, as seen in three oil paintings gracing the walls of Lightner Gallery.
Sackett’s paintings are on display alongside numerous other works from members of Keuka’s faculty and staff, whose job titles may not necessarily disclose the individuals as creative “artists-in-residence.”
Beyond 9 to 5: The Hidden Talents of Keuka’s Faculty and Staff runs through March 7 in Lightner Gallery,located in Lightner Library. It features a range of artistic mediums, including painting, photography, ceramics, glass work, digital art, and film. More than 20 faculty and staff members submitted work for the show, including President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera.
During a special artists’ reception – open to the public – Thursday, Feb. 21 from 4:30 – 6 p.m., the exhibit will also feature select culinary art from four members of the faculty and staff. The exhibit remains open daily during library hours, available online at: http://lightner.keuka.edu
“Oh, mine [my talents] are very hidden, I tell you,” Sackett said with a laugh, describing the full year of painting lessons she received as a gift from her husband about 10 years ago. Inspired by a teacher who excelled at creating crisp, clear images on the canvas, Sackett said she “fell in love” with oil painting, and is particularly proud of the work she called “Still Waters,” which features a boat on the shore.
“It looks almost like a photograph to me, not a panting,” Sackett said. “I don’t know what the technique is called, but I like that and I take a lot of pride in that. [Painting] is a work of joy for me and something I plan to attack again with vigor when I finally find time to slow down.”
Among other works, visitors will see an image of a vibrant red maple leaf, the only spot of color in what appears to be a black-and-white photo of other leaves. It’s not black-and-white, but the other leaves were so muddy when Vickie Tobias took the photo that it just looks that way, said the Bath resident who works as a database administrator in Keuka’s Information Technology Services department. Indeed, her image won “Best in Show” in the 2011 Steuben County Fair, where she has been winning ribbons for her photography since 2007.
While there are plenty of traditional arts – painting and photography – featured, several non-traditional works in the exhibit warrant closer inspection too, said Phelps resident Brett Williams, digital media specialist for the College.
“There were some works I wasn’t expecting,” Williams said, citing metallic elements from the periodic table refashioned into scientific word designs by Dr. Andy Robak, associate professor of chemistry, and polished rocks known as “thundereggs” from Dr. Mike McKenzie, professor of religion and philosophy.
“There’s an element of interactivity where you can physically touch it, and I’m somebody who appreciates that. You’ve got to just see it all,” said Williams, who co-directed a 2011 documentary featured in the exhibit. The film, Nickel City Smiler, centers on Smiler Greeley, a Karen refugee from Burma, and his family, who relocated to inner-city Buffalo. Three of Williams’ images from the film are on display along with QR codes that mobile devices can scan to take them to the documentary website.
According to Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art and curator for the show, the most inspiring aspect has been bringing together those who work in different buildings on campus and providing an opportunity to get to know one another better.
The exhibit underscores that “we’re all very ambitious people,” Newcomb said, praising both the quality and quantity of works on display. “Besides just our 9-5 attendance –teaching or working in an office – there’s other hidden talents that these faculty and staff have. To see others doing and creating these [works] excites me that there could be future collaborations and connections across the campus and the community.”
Featured staff or faculty artists include:Painting: Melissa Newcomb of Penn Yan, assistant professor of art
Glass or Ceramics: Chevanne DeVaney of Geneva, stained glass, director of multicultural affairs