Art department faculty showcases their work in gallery

The Truman State University Art Gallery in Ophelia Parrish is currently showing an exhibition of the art department faculty’s latest works.

The University Art Gallery has various exhibitions throughout the year. Often the first exhibition of the academic year will be of art faculty’s works, Heidi Cook, University Art Gallery director, said.

“It’s a beginning-of-the-year celebration for our department because we’re celebrating some of the work that our faculty have done before our students have had a chance to dig their hands into their projects and classes,” Cook said.

The annual faculty art exhibition has been a part of the University Art Gallery’s schedule for over 20 years.

A driving factor behind the faculty exhibition is the teacher — scholar model that Truman promotes, Cook said. The teacher — scholar model uses scholarly work to augment classroom teaching. The scholarly work for the art department faculty is creating a body of art outside of their classes.

The art faculty are on a rotation for who will have work shown in the exhibition. Usually, they will have work shown every few years, Cook said.

When it is a faculty member’s turn to have work shown in the University Art Gallery, Cook will sit down with the faculty member and discuss how their latest body of work looks and decide where in the gallery it would work best.

About 189 people attended the opening reception event for the exhibition. A significant number of people attending were from the community, Cook said.

“Partly why it’s important is as a model for students,” Cook said. “We don’t want to ask students to do anything that we ourselves would not do. We start the year with these faculty shows, and we always end each semester with our senior capstone exhibition. So, in some ways, I see them as parallel.”

One of the faculty members showing work is Lindsey Dunnagan, an associate professor of art from the painting department. 

Dunnagan is in her seventh year of teaching at Truman.

“My work encompasses a lot of ideas that can be funneled into the realm of family and nostalgia,” Dunnagan said. “Also thinking a lot about nature, which ties into my nostalgia for Alaska and the family I grew up with there.”

Dunnagan uses mostly painting media in her work, such as watercolor and oil. She also uses ink, charcoal, graphite and gold leafing.

Dunnagan started working professionally in 2009, but she had been creating art and showing it in small galleries long before then.

The faculty having a space to show their art is helpful for grant writing, Dunnagan said. When Dunnagan was writing a grant for an upcoming project, she said she knew she would have a space to show the work. This meant she would also have the opportunity to be more experimental with the work.

Another member of faculty showing their work in the exhibition is Nick Phan, who teaches printmaking. Phan is an alumnus of Truman, having graduated four years ago, returning to fill in for another professor on maternity leave.

“I didn’t think eight years ago when I started here [as a student] that I would be in [the faculty art exhibition],” Phan said.

Phan works primarily in prints. Phan’s series of smaller prints in the gallery were originally postcards he printed. Phan said he mails prints out to people, and they correspond to events in his life.

Phan’s larger works in the gallery are related to spaces in his life, Phan said. These spaces can be places he has worked in or even objects he has seen in his daily life, Phan said.

“A lot of our students may not realize that all of the art faculty are working artists,” Dunnagan said. “So I think it builds a deeper connection, but also often we are telling them things they should be thinking about professionally, and when they see that we are professional artists working with curators, then they’re like ‘Okay, maybe you do know what you’re talking about.’”