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NEC gallery features distinctive work by fine arts alumni

 A detail of ”Ananta Shesha” Youdhisthir “Youdhi” Maharjan.

A detail of ”Ananta Shesha” Youdhisthir “Youdhi” Maharjan. Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

Every twist of paper for Youdhisthir “Youdhi” Maharjan is exact, purposeful. His work may be abstract, but his method is precise. For Nathan Myatt, every imperfect line of city decay, every shadow, while it may trick the eye, is equally precise, exact, purposeful.

The work of New England College alums will be showcased in exhibits entitled, “The Art of Not Making Art” and “A Visual Documentation of the Urban Persona” respectively at The New England College Gallery. The exhibits will run from Tuesday to Dec. 4 with a reception for the artists next Thursday from 4-6 p.m.

When New England College Gallery Director Darryl Furtkamp had an idea to show current and prospective students as well as the community at large just what was possible with an art degree, Myatt and Maharjan immediately came to mind, he said.

“We started thinking that we don’t do enough in regards to (showcasing alums),” Furtkamp said. “Students enroll in college in an art program they want to know what’s possible for them down the road.”

Both have their undergraduate degrees from NEC, both went on to get higher degrees and now – Myatt with his photography, and Maharhjan with his, whatever it is he’s using at the moment – are working artists.

Maharjan, who prefers to go by just Youdhi, was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal. At age 19, he came to the U.S. with an idea of studying art.

He largely had taught himself art, having spent 10 years in a military school where the expectation was that he was going to be a scientist or a doctor. While he didn’t take up those professions, he took with him the discipline of someone who does.

“Youdhi has this kind of old-school discipline and rigor with references in our country, although he’s not from our country, but he does have a background in our history and (his work) references what was going on in the abstract expressionists in ’40s and ’50s with a real gift of focusing on process,” Furtkamp said.

Furtkamp said ultimately it’s the focus on process and not the end result that educators are always trying to im-

part to new art students, but that Maharjan actually grasps and exemplifies.

And he attributes that skill to the rigorous discipline and hard work of military school along with time he spent doing Thangka painting, a type of Buddhist religious art.

“It’s very meticulous, it’s very time consuming,” he said. “It’s kind of meditative. You have to spend so much time on tiny, tiny details. Those two things made me the way I am which is a perfectionist and methodical.”

But after he left Nepal, he said he was inspired by American modern art, where the idea is to break the rules.

“I break lots of rules in my art,” Maharjan said. “I question art, I question beauty and the definition of painting. Like my prints, they don’t hang on the wall, they float on the wall acting as a sculpture. And I use paint to make sculpture
. . . so there is a questioning of what painting is, what drawing is and what printmaking is.

“I break rules but at the same time, I’m methodical in my process.”

Maharjan received a degree in art history and creative writing from New England College in 2009 and then went on to receive a master’s degree in art at the University of Idaho.

Furtkamp said one of the best examples of Maharjan’s dedication and work ethic is a giant abstract installation – on display at the exhibit – of what looks like strands of rope but what in reality is more than 15,000 feet of twisted up newspaper.

“His work ethic is incredible,” Furtkamp said. “I like to refer to him as he’s kind of stealth, you don’t see a lot of him, you just see this abundance of work. I mean 15,000 feet of coiled newsprint – he’s pretty disciplined.”

And then there’s Myatt, whose stark black-and-white photography capture not only the raw realities of urban living while at the same time reducing the images into the abstraction of their basic architecture.

Myatt grew up in Washington, D.C., but for college wanted something completely different. He picked the rural academia of Henniker.

“He told me he came up here on a train for the first time and was completely lost,” Furtkamp said. “He’s always sort of tried to blend these two worlds in his work. . . . This dichotomy between what he knew and what he was experiencing and trying to make sense of his appreciation of where he had come from has led to this body of work.”

And his work consists of photographing figures in a very stark black-and-white, urban environment. Furtkamp said his work is evocative of early Warhol, who also took to the streets with a Polaroid camera early in his career. Myatt said he particularly likes working in black and white because removing color, removes distraction and clutter, reducing the images to their basic elements.

Myatt graduated in 2008 from New England College with an art degree and a concentration in graphic design and digital photography. He also minored in art history.

Like Maharjan, Myatt also went on to graduate school at the University of Idaho, earning a master’s degree in fine art. He currently works as a graphic designer for Reingold LINK in Washington, D.C., and right now is working on designing the logo for the District of Columbia deputy mayor’s education initiative, Raise DC.

“I had both these young artists as undergraduate students,” Furtkamp said. “It is amazing to see their maturity and their creative development.”

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and other times by appointment.

To schedule an appointment or for more information about these exhibits, please call Furtkamp at 428-2329. The gallery is located on Main Street in Henniker adjacent to the College’s Administration Building. Admission to the Gallery and Gallery events is free.

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