Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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Inspiration

Mars gallery features art of alumnae/i

Alum Art ExhibitOn the first floor of the Mars Arts and Humanities building, students walk the corridors everyday on the way to classes. Currently, they have inspiration that shows them what is possible when one follows one’s passion.

That comes courtesy of graduates who are following their passion and pursuing careers in art. The work of Ellen McNamara Llewellyn ’04, Cynthia Rodday ’92 and Evan Morse ’09 is on exhibit through October 7 in the Davis Court Student Art Gallery.

Studio art faculty members use the space to show the work of students who are in current classes and occasionally show the work of visiting artists. However, exhibition-ready pieces by students often aren't ready until mid-October, so the Art Department came up with this solution, said Associate Professor of Art Patty Stone, who organized the exhibition.

“We reached out through Facebook and email to our graduates who have been out of school for a few years,” Stone said. “All the work in the exhibition was produced in the years since they graduated. Several of our alums have gone on to graduate school and /or made a reputation as an artist through their participation in competitive exhibitions and in galleries. Some have won artist residencies and major commissions. It is gratifying to see their successes.”

Morse, a sculptor, said he’s always looking for opportunities to show his work, so he welcomed this opportunity.

“The art gallery is central to the Mars Arts building. Hopefully passersby who might not have sought out art will be drawn in to have a look. If my work inspires a few students, that is a bonus,” said Morse.

The exhibit also supports a new class that is being offered this semester to senior art majors, “Critical Issues in Art.”

“This new class is designed to better prepare our students for their exhibition in the spring in the Beard and Weil Galleries. Overall the new class helps to develop skills in professional art practice. The exhibition supports these goals and gives our current students some concrete examples of how they might pursue opportunities to show their work or keep developing as an artist once they graduate.”

After graduation from Wheaton, Llewellyn went on to teach studio art at the KIPP School in Lynn, Mass., and at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Mass. In 2010, she began painting full time. Her work, which primarily focuses on landscapes and seascapes, has been widely exhibited in Boston, New York, Texas, Virginia and California.

Rodday, who has a master of fine arts degree from Georgia Southern University, is a graphic designer with experience in print and web design. Her current series of pastels features scenes from a national park, botanical garden and a wildlife refuge.

Morse’s most recent series of sculptures depicts people at rest in their homes, usually seated or reclining on a couch doing ordinary things like watching TV.

“I first started this series because I wanted to find a cheap, easy way to work from live models instead of strictly from photographs. By sculpting my wife while she was watching movies on the couch, I was able to work from life while she remained comfortable and relaxed,” he said. “There is something interesting about documenting this activity that people do almost every day but almost always do in private. Sitting on the couch watching TV is something that most Americans can closely relate to.”

Before attending Wheaton, Evans said he didn’t know what he wanted to major in. “Though I quickly decided on studio art, I am very grateful for the full liberal arts experience. There were many classes outside my major that I found extremely rewarding, and that definitely influence the way I look at the world. …To me, the most important thing about college is learning how to operate effectively, manage your time wisely and think critically. As someone who is basically self-employed, following an unpredictable career path, I rely on the work ethic that I learned at Wheaton to keep myself productive and motivated.”