John Stark grad guides current students in creating art show for NEC gallery
“Eye of the Leopard” by Sarah Vivilecchia
“Pop Beans” by Laine Ramsey
“Still Life” by Molly Holmes
"Standing Alone” by Tia Lyons.
Some say you can’t go home again. Try telling that to Devon Mozdierz.
The young artist, a graduate of John Stark Regional High School and New England College, and a master of fine arts student at the University of Idaho, has returned to New England College for an internship under the guidance of her former teacher, New England College Gallery Director and assistant professor of art Darryl Furtkamp.
As part of her internship, Mozdierz is curating an art exhibit at the NEC Gallery featuring the work of 30 students from John Stark.
The exhibit, which opens tomorrow, grew out of NEC’s desire to reach out to local schools and to make good use of the gallery between the college’s spring and summer sessions.
“With Devon coming back here teaching a course for the college this summer, it seemed like a real obvious connection to put her back in touch with people at John Stark,” Furtkamp said.
Mozdierz reunited with her visual arts teachers at John Stark – Tracy Travers, Erin Smart and Bess Robblee – to sort through and select the work, which represents all classes and all grades at the high school, for the exhibit.
As plans took shape, she found herself in the unusual position of instructing her own teachers.
“It was a little surreal to be telling them, ‘We need to do this and we need to do that’,” Mozdierz said.
Both Mozdierz and Furtkamp wanted the students to experience the real world of art.
For example, Mozdierz said that as the art was being chosen for this exhibit, the students learned that not every piece of art works for a particular exhibit.
“I try to give the students an idea of what actually goes into an exhibition, and give them a really serious take on it. We run it like we’d run any exhibition,” she said.
Furtkamp wanted Mozdierz to instruct the students about the importance of the effort required not only in creating the work, but also in getting it out there and explaining it to the best possible advantage.
And, he said, art students need to understand the commitment that museums and galleries take on when they exhibit someone’s work, and the artists’ responsibility to the exhibitors.
The students got a soup-to-nuts experience.
“Devon went to the high school with this foam core model of the gallery,” Furtkamp said, “and showed, from a museum curatorial point of view, how you actually lay out an exhibition, how you run sight lines, and how you determine which work goes where, how much is enough for a space and how much is too much.”
Mozdierz printed the selected art work to scale to assist the students in their planning.
The teachers brought the students to the gallery last week, where they put into practice what they learned from the model.
“They went through some of the layout, and actually set the sight lines,” said Furtkamp. “They ordered pizza. They were there all day, putting work together, making it ready for presentation. They actually patched and painted the walls in the gallery – one of those grunt jobs that nobody wants to do but that has to be done.”
The students, who also did some framing and learned how to use mat cutters, learned as well that there are many career paths in the art world besides creating the art itself.
Mozdierz said that while she enjoyed working with the students, who were really excited to be able to help and have something to do, the work was informative for her as a teacher. Her career goal is to teach art at the college level.
Furtkamp is impressed with the quality of the artwork.
“I have to tell you, the work is outstanding,” he said. “Whatever they’re teaching there (at John Stark), there’s some really beautiful stuff hanging on these walls.”
He also had high praise for Mozdierz’s work.
“When Devon came to us, she had good foundation skills, a really high skill level,” he said . “One of the more important things is a really strong work ethic and commitment. She maintained that perfectly with us and, what I hear back from Idaho, it’s the same.”
Furtkamp believes that the exhibit is good not only for the high school students, but for the college as well.
“Potentially we might a get a few more of these area high school students coming to us,” he said, “having the experience of working with an alum, with one who’s as focused and accomplished as Devon is.”
She’s a good example to those students, he said. She’s close to their age, and seeing her successes over the years allows them see that art careers are a possibility for them.
Working on this project has been good for Mozdierz, too.
“It’s been a very grounding experience, to come full circle,” she said, “and to have the opportunity to work with two places where I’ve had a very positive experience.”
It’s also very cool, she said, to come back and tell young art students what options await them.
Admission to the gallery is free, and the public is invited to a reception for the artists tomorrow from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Gallery hours for this exhibit are Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and other times by appointment.
To schedule an appointment or for information about the exhibit, please call Darryl Furtkamp, director of the New England College Gallery, at 428-2329. The gallery is located on Main Street in Henniker, New Hampshire, next to the college’s administration building.