Celebrating 60 years of Dal's artistic talents

Student, Staff, Faculty and Alumni Exhibition

- December 17, 2013

Two guests check out John Pennoyer's "Salcombe Dighies" at the Dalhousie Art Gallery. (Ryan McNutt photo)
Two guests check out John Pennoyer's "Salcombe Dighies" at the Dalhousie Art Gallery. (Ryan McNutt photo)

In 1953, after a decade of organizing small exhibitions, the Dalhousie Art Group finally had a space to call its own. The first location of the Dalhousie Art Gallery was small — one room in what is now the Henry Hicks Arts & Administration Building — but as the first public art gallery in Halifax, it had an important role to play both on campus and in the broader community.

Today, its space may be larger and the scope of its work much wider, but in some ways its fundamental mission as a public gallery and academic support unit remains the same. And one element of that mission has been an annual staple of the gallery’s schedule since its very first year: the Student, Staff, Faculty and Alumni Exhibition.

For 60 years, the gallery has been inviting the Dal community to submit its own creative works for display. The exhibition, which takes place every December, is an opportunity to showcase the hidden (and sometimes not-so-hidden) talent that exists across the university.

Variety of voices

This year’s show, which features more over 90 pieces from more than 40 different artists, kicked off at last Thursday's opening reception with many of the artists in attendance. As per usual, Gallery Director Peter Dykhuis passed around the microphone following his opening remarks, allowing each of the artists, if they wished, to share a bit about their work. From the multi-generational contributions of former Dean of Medicine Jock Murray and his family, to the Lord of the Rings video mashup display by Theatre prof Shannon Brownlee, the pieces and stories were as varied as the Dal community itself.

Costume Studies Professor John Pennoyer contributed a painting titled Salcombe Dinghies, a piece he’s been working on for more than a decade.

“I started it in 2000, and it’s been with me through several moves, put away when I was disgusted with it and then I’d eventually get back to it,” he explained. The painting is a representation of a visual image he saw while spending time in the Devon region of England.

“It’s a tiny town that gets invaded every spring and summer by wealthy British people, with their yachts and dinghies… I think it was the light [that struck me], and the holiday mood; just the pleasure of watching the incredibly rich having fun.”

This was the first Student, Staff, Faculty and Alumni Exhibition for Mahmuda Begum, a third-year Chemistry and English major. She submitted three pieces: a mixed mdia collage titled Tabletop Collage and two clay creations: Cracked and Orchid.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to display some of my talents,” she said, when asked what inspired her to submit to the exhibition. It was also an chance to showcase her work with clay, a material she began exploring this past summer.

“You can really mold it into anything you want, and the results usually turn out to be beautiful.”

Creativity on display

In many ways, that's the idea behind the exhibition: to celebrate the ways in which members of the Dal community experiment with expression.

“The university is filled with multi-talented individuals,” said Vice-President Student Services Bonnie Neuman, on hand to help introduce the exhibition. “This is about celebrating you, the artists: your creativity, your talent and the importance of visual literacy in a place of higher learning.”

As for Dykhuis, he said he's incredibly satisfied with how this year’s exhibition came together. (He's also part of the show, with two pieces from his series Peripheral Traces (Dark Heart).)

“This exhibition is always a bit of a challenge to design and install, because we have all these fabulous voices from different artists, but I think everyone did an incredible job."

The Student, Faculty, Staff and Alumni Exhibition runs until Sunday, December 22 at the Dalhousie Art Gallery. For more details and operating hours, visit the Gallery’s website.


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