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Studio Art Alumni: Inside the Bug Jar

  • E.O. Bull Center for the Arts 2 East Rosedale Avenue West Chester, PA, 19382 United States (map)

West Chester University is proud to present Studio Art Alumni: Inside the Bug Jar, an exhibition featuring new work

from a diverse collection of Studio Art alumni. The E.O. Bull Center for the Arts, which was once home to these thirteen

artists when they were honing their craft and developing their emerging sensibilities as artists, now represents a place of

reunion and celebration of their maturing work and emerging careers since graduating. The exhibition highlights the bold

strides each of these artists have taken in their own creative directions.


When a young artist looks at the art world or the world at large in a broader sense, they cannot help but to imagine their

purpose in it. One does not simply want to mesh with the existing culture but to become trailblazers for those in

generations to come. This ambitious quest depends on knowing one’s identity and holding true to it and is accompanied

by no small amount of anxiety and pressure. Like a bug in jar, sometimes one feels helplessly aware of the voyeuristic view

society can have over their actions and thoughts. Trapped, yet expected to know how to flourish. Each artist represented

in the Alumni Exhibition grapples with their own uphill battles and have developed successful strategies to maneuver

through to find the greener side. In the creativity displayed here, we witness each individual artist’s specific journey as seen

through their eyes and presented on their terms.


The simplistic and raw text based paintings of Catalina Lassen and Matt Higgins show a stripped down approach to

process while maintaining the poignant gravitas of internal monologue and the reassurance of one’s self. Other artists in

the exhibition also adopt the style of a chronicle and infuse their art work with an intimate sense of their everyday lives. See

the oddly enticing overlaid photographs of Kathryn Rogers or the painstaking mark making and conscious color pouring

of Devon Dadoly’s large scale abstract paintings. The environment around an artist, both real and psychological, can

influence the work an artist creates. Perhaps the ceramic work of Rosemary Campellone best describes this idea as her

colorfully tinged vessels coalesce to form a garden of flower-like forms. In Rosemary’s work the physical presence of a piece

melds with the aura of the imagined space it’s seen to occupy.


Many of the featured artists, addressing the feeling of societal scrutiny in the form of media and mores, revel in presenting

the human form and in all of its genuine imperfections and idiosyncrasies. When an artist reveals beauty in simplicity, the

impact of their works become exceedingly evident. The primarily black and white photographs of Paul Ballard and the

precious and delicate porcelain work of Olivia Everett both tell stories of the beauty of the female form without

overcomplicating the setting the work resides in. Others drive this narrative in a different direction using a bolder palette

and more gestural depiction of the female figure. The energetic brushwork and abstract backgrounds that encompass the

women in Samantha Pace’s paintings create a space of action for her figures. The repeated patterns used in Rebecca Shagin’s

paintings build an intricate environment to shed light on the complex makeup of one’s identity and how one makes peace

with their imperfections.


The poem, Inside the Bug Jar, provides the thematic undertone for this exhibition. The text posits the common thread

of an examination of personal artistic identity. Since graduating, I have felt the pressures of not having the familiar

surroundings I became so comfortable with while attending West Chester University. It is fair to say that each and every

one of us have had our own personal moments of doubt, embarrassment, and confusion in our creative process. The poem

was written as a stream of consciousness elaboration on those daily moments we each share intimately with ourselves as we

strive for self-acceptance and find our voices as artists and ultimately as people. The shared space of this exhibition that

brings together the unique work of each of these talented artists offers a conversation about the many ways artistic identity

can be developed, placed in conflict, and finally accepted along the individual paths we have created since leaving the doors

of the E.O. Bull Center.


- Nicholas Burns, co-curator and participating artist, WCU 2015


Exhibiting Artists

Catalina Lassen

Devon Dadoly

Samantha Pace

Paul Ballard

Kathryn Rogers

Francesca Phillips

Matt Higgins

Rosemary Campellone

Olivia Everett

Jennifer Hartz

Rebecca Shagin

Sara Yourist

Nicholas Burns