Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

‘Archive’ features faculty art

David Baker

Southwestern Michigan College’s faculty art exhibit looks back to go forward.

“Archive” runs until April 3 in the Art Gallery of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus.

Free and open to the public, the retrospective runs Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

While it may seem “Archive’s” intent is spring cleaning closets crammed with pre-existing projects, prototypes, never-seen sketches, unfinished works (such as Jan Kimball’s “Pivot”) or inspiration for new pieces to come, the exhibit actually marks a turning point.

“Typically, we’ve done the faculty exhibit spring semester,” Visual and Performing Arts Chairman Marc Dombrosky said. “We’re going to switch our schedule and do it as the first exhibition in the fall, the notion being, ‘Welcome back, this is who the faculty are.’ All the work you’ll see in the fall will be new projects not yet exhibited.”

“This is the most completely different one I’ve seen ,” marveled Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Scott Topping, who questioned each instructor about his or her work during the March 19 reception.

Dan Grohs brought four pieces completely different from one another, including Chicago at night and a pre-Photoshop collage from 1989-90 at Western Michigan University.

He projected an instructor’s painting onto her body, then created a tribal totem by replicating her eyes.

Ceramics instructor Sherrie Styx went all the way back to the summer she was 10 to include a book made with her father.

Bill Rothwell, who teaches graphic design, went for breadth with his 1964 entry in a draw-your-dad contest, a cave woman, an old woman seated in a chair, a koala bear clutching a pillow, architectural sketches, postage stamp designs and a photo-realistic Heineken ad painting.

Professor Emeritus David Baker focused on 1971, the year of his WMU senior show.

“As an undergraduate, I was torn between ceramics and painting,” Baker said, standing before a painting of his maternal grandfather, a Michigan State graduate and center on the 1913 football team who resembles comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

Professor Emeritus Terry Pfliger created an apocryphal timeline tracing his evolution since a beardless 1965 portrait, including a 1977 bacon breakfast with his friend Gordon (“We have a newspaper to encourage serious conversation”) and appearances on Time magazine’s cover.

“I enjoy what I see when I look at your stuff,” Topping said. “I’m amused and like the self-deprecation. But I also get a sense of sadness.”

Photographer Dennis Hafer’s images included a worn-out South Shore train car and exotic lily pads which look like floating ice cream carton lids.

Dombrosky’s contributed doodled scraps of paper strewn across a tabletop.

These notes not only belonged to someone, they valued them. His wife, Shannon, taught him embroidery in 2003 and he turns trash into treasure from love letters and shopping lists he found on the ground.

When Dombrosky lived in Las Vegas, he gathered artifacts outside a detention center as each individual was released with a Ziploc bag labeled with their name in Sharpie.

Taken together, they can tell a story, with embroidery encouraging a longer, lingering look.