Alumni/ae art show exhibits progress and reflection

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Isabel Saavedra-Weis

More stories from Isabel Saavedra-Weis

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Alumni/ae art show exhibits progress and reflection

Dowdle and Smith talk to their former art teacher Joy Liberman at the opening show.

Dowdle and Smith talk to their former art teacher Joy Liberman at the opening show.

Isabel Saavedra-Weis

Dowdle and Smith talk to their former art teacher Joy Liberman at the opening show.

Isabel Saavedra-Weis

Isabel Saavedra-Weis

Dowdle and Smith talk to their former art teacher Joy Liberman at the opening show.

Milling around with drinks and little plates of food in hand, people fill the Davern lobby and Lilly Courtyard. A band plays, the scent of well prepared food catches on the breeze and everyone gathers to admire art. Alumni art, to be exact. In the opening show of the school year, four graduates of St. Paul Academy and Summit School exhibit work in the Harry M. Drake gallery for their past art teachers and friends to see.

The artwork filling the gallery ranges from TV screens playing looping video clips to a painting on plaid fabric canvas.  Two of the featured alumni artists attending the opening reception of the show. Conor Dowdle and Alex Smith (’11) came back to see their work hung on familiar walls.

Dowdle’s is familiar with the process of group shows in the Harry M. Drake gallery; he took painting at least one semester each year during his time at SPA, finishing with Senior Art Seminar. In college, he started out as a history major, but then dropped it when he realized he could major in what he loves: art.

“There are great resources in the SPA art department. I got to college and realized that taking a handful of semesters of painting and senior art seminar gave me a real leg up in my understanding [of art],” Dowdle said. “Having that background in painting in my high school days was invaluable.” 

There are great resources in the SPA art department. I got to college and realized that taking a handful of semesters of painting and senior art seminar gave me a real leg up in my understanding [of art].”

— Conor Dowdle, SPA class of '11

Dowdle’s dominant art form is still painting on canvas, just as it was in 2011, although now, he feels as though his experience has changed: “Its been five years of trying really hard and making art stuff, so I in lots of ways,” Dowdle said.

Smith feels as though having his work up in the gallery is also a form of reflection. His work is a visual collage, covering each canvas with bright paint, written phrases and pieces of CDs. He describes his pieces as the “existential crisis of a 23-year-old done in the hand of a 23-year-old.”

“I am always pleased to find that students, many of whom I knew personally, have followed their passion and have been able to find both personal and professional success in the field of the arts,” said Fine Arts Department Chair Marty Nash. “We, as a community, are always interested in the future successes of those we have taught and nurtured through their years with us. We know that, as in all areas of professional adult life, there are many who have continued as artists in one capacity or another. This is a way to celebrate this sometimes less recognized career choice.”

The Alumni/ae show is on display from Sep. 9 to Oct. 7.

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