HJC faculty featured in art exhibit

March 17, 1998|By TERI JOHNSON

by Richard T. Meagher / staff photographer

(unless otherwise noted)

see enlargements by clicking on images

First Star

An exhibit opening today at Washington County Arts Council Gallery shows that Hagerstown Junior College faculty members practice what they teach.

The 10 artists are displaying more than a flair for design, color and texture.

Collectively, they represent more than 200 years of art experience, says Ben Culbertson, art department coordinator at HJC.

"It's an opportunity to showcase the talent in the HJC faculty that's largely unnoticed," says Culbertson, 36.

Culbertson, who will be showing a series of new bowls and a tile piece in the exhibit, is teaching art appreciation, ceramics, drawing and three-dimensional design this semester.


The HJC faculty exhibit continues through Saturday, April 18, at the gallery at 41 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown. An opening reception will be Sunday, March 22, from 1 to 4 p.m.

The exhibit will show the community what a strong, diverse group of artists HJC has to offer, says Natoma Reed Vargason, gallery director.

She says many students and area residents know the participants as educators.

"This exhibit will provide the opportunity for the artists to showcase their first passion - creating works of art," Vargason says.

Clown DreamsHJC offers a professional program for people planning to pursue art as a career, as well as classes for those wanting to experiment, Culbertson says.

"We try to keep the quality up for both groups," Culbertson says.

That effort is recognized by photography major Stephanie Swope, who transferred to University of the Arts in Philadelphia as a sophomore after attending Hagerstown Junior College for two years.

The 20-year-old from Hagerstown had classes with Culbertson and Richard Stoecker while at HJC, and she says she was ahead when she arrived at University of the Arts.

"I was very well prepared. Ben and Richard are excellent teachers," Swope says.

Stoecker teaches beginning and advanced photography classes at HJC, and he has been there for 22 years. His work in the exhibit will include photographs of monasteries and convents taken in Portugal.

Stoecker says he spends a lot of time counseling students, who often need to speak to someone objective.

"The darkroom is a quiet, contemplative place, and I like to talk and communicate with people," Stoecker says.

Stoecker, 51, of Hedgesville, W.Va., also builds furniture and has his own gallery. He has been a photographer for 30 years.

PotteryStoecker says he doesn't have critiques in his class; instead, they talk in terms of students' progress.

"The camera is a tool, like a paintbrush. There's much more to it than meets the eye," he says.

Nancy Blank has been teaching at HJC for about 15 years, and she says she shares the same problems as her students.

"I have to deal with the same elements and principles," says Blank, whose work on display at the gallery will include silkscreen on Plexiglas.

The 53-year-old Hagerstown resident says it's important for students to see that their teachers are working artists, and that they get their hands dirty.

Blank, head of the art department at St. Maria Goretti High School, is teaching art appreciation, drawing and printmaking at HJC this semester. She says the college tries to bring art to everyone.

"It's really a joy to watch somebody blossom," she says.

Culbertson, of Hagerstown, says more than 200 people are taking art classes at HJC this semester.

Culbertson, the only full-time instructor showing work in the exhibit, has taught at HJC for five years.

He says people of any age or skill can take an art class. They shouldn't feel threatened, and they shouldn't have the expectation that something magnificent must be created, he says.

"I want everyone to know they're an artist inside. If they have a nurturing environment, the artist will come out," he says.

Turtle Soup

photo by Joe Jolly

listed from top to bottom:

"First Star" by Ben Culbertson

"Clown Dreams" by Nancy Blank

pottery by Rick Culbertson

"Turtle Soup" by Stephen Wright

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