West Windsor, N.J. – “Saturated Geometry,” an exhibit on display at the Gallery on Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) West Windsor Campus through March 7, features five artists’ distinctive approaches to shape, color and texture.
The resulting “wow” factor has made the exhibit popular with gallery visitors of all ages. Works are by New York-based artists Robert Erickson, Ryan Sarah Murphy, Alex Paik, Richard Tinkler, and Andrew Zimmerman.
On Feb. 6, all five artists made the trip to the West Windsor Campus, where they started their day by participating in a lunchtime panel discussion in the Communications Building. Each shared his or her artistic evolution and current approaches to their creative process, and offered advice to the more than 70 students in attendance. The discussion moderator was Professor of Visual Arts Lucas Kelly, who curated the show.
One of Kelly’s boldest curating decisions was to hang 17 large paintings by artist Richard Tinkler side by side on the gallery’s main wall. During the panel discussion, Tinkler revealed that he used only two brush sizes in the making of all 17 paintings. “I like to work within limitations,” he noted. “It helps me to focus on the process and my direction. It’s one of the ways I make progress as an artist.”
Ryan Sarah Murphy uses found objects in her colorful, three-dimensional works. “I hated painting on canvas,” she told the audience. “I found that it paralyzed me. I’m a materials-based sculptor. When you let go, you listen to the work and grow as an artist.” Murphy uses objects like cardboard, cut book covers and foam core in her intricately layered pieces.
Alex Paik added to the discussion about the limitations imposed by the traditional rectangular canvas. He has gotten far, far away from that convention. Using subtly colored paper, he allows his geometric pieces to form organically. Each of his installations is unique, depending on the gallery space he is given. His piece at the Mercer Gallery, which took several hours for him to install, takes up an entire wall.
Two of the other artists, Andrew Zimmerman and Robert Erickson, have drawn inspiration from their backgrounds in furniture design (Zimmerman) and printmaking (Erickson). Zimmerman’s five fanciful, boldly-colored works have the appearance of three-dimensional puzzles that fit together, sort of. The result is playful and engaging. Erickson draws from his printmaking background, inverting traditional processes in three large works that use ink suspended in polyester. They create a dreamlike world of soft edges and subtle color, leaving the viewer to wonder exactly how he did it.
During a Q&A at the end of the program, one student turned to practical matters as he asked the artists how they support themselves. They all admitted it isn’t easy, but they are making it work, whether that’s through teaching, having another, often related job, such as Erickson’s print shop, or freelancing in various ways.
Tinkler noted, “Art is one part of a full life.”
During the evening reception, held in the Gallery, the artists had a chance to discuss their work with visitors directly, including many students.
It all added up to was a great day in the arts at Mercer.
Gallery hours for this show are Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.For updates, directions and other information, visit www.mccc.edu/gallery or www.facebook.com/MCCCgallery.