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MCCC Gallery Volunteers Are Artists in Their Own Right

10/21/10


West Windsor, N.J.- The artists featured in "Plastics Alchemy," the show that opened the MCCC Gallery season in September, all have talent in common. They also have another defining bond: they have found a home as volunteers at the college's welcoming, light-filled exhibit space.

All have given amply of their time as volunteers over the past decade to ensure that the Gallery keeps its doors open for as many hours as possible each week. Said Gallery Director/Curator Tricia Fagan, "We hope the exhibit served to remind patrons that the engaging, knowledgeable people who greet them at the Gallery are often gifted artists." She notes that some of these wonderfully creative people have taken years, even decades, of art classes at the college, while others simply enjoy being in a beautiful space surrounded by art and other artists.

"There is a sacredness about this space," says West Windsor artist Renee Kumar, who staffs the desk each Thursday. She met Gallery Director/Curator Tricia Fagan at Artworks, a hub for artists in Trenton. "Tricia has been our guardian angel the whole time." Kumar is enthusiastic about her Gallery post. "I enjoy seeing students visit. Being exposed to art opens their minds. That's what education is all about."

Kumar's signature watercolors have been featured in numerous Gallery exhibits, including the annual Mercer County Artists shows, in which she has won prizes, and Dangerous Women Two, the 2007 exhibit that asked contemporary female artists to use colorful women from the 20th century as the inspiration for the piece they submitted.

Among the college's "forever" art students is Andrea Seabridge, of Allentown, NJ, who has volunteered in the evenings to keep the Gallery open for those unable to visit during the day. An employee of the State of New Jersey for 32 years, Seabridge has spent decades at Mercer, having taken her first art classes in the 1970s, when Fine Arts Professor Mel Leipzig "looked like Bono," she recalls with a smile. Now retired, Seabridge considers art her refuge. Her painting featured in the recent exhibit is called "Woodruff," depicting the soothing greens and pleasing foliage of the popular New Jersey ground cover.

Also a long-time student is Susan Luty, of Hightstown. "I use Mercer as my studio," she explains. Having experimented with various mediums, she is now focused strictly on ceramics. "I don't know how ceramics happened. It just did. The texture, the shape - I find it all interesting," she says. In her piece in the Gallery show, she used clay shapes stacked in a geological formation.

Another regular is Beverly Ardos Fredericks, of East Windsor, who exhibited several works in the show, including a bronze sculpture of a cheetah that illustrates her fascination with animals. "I'm looking for the spirit of the animal," she says. Two other pieces in geometric black and white reflect her background in mathematics. Her latest medium is printmaking.

Also exhibiting was Arlene Milgram, of Ewing, whose daughter Zoe studied art at Mercer and introduced her artist-mother to the Gallery. Milgram was an enthusiastic participant in the Dangerous Women exhibit, pairing herself with Lee Krasner, the wife of Jackson Pollock.

Like numerous other MCCC art students, Fine Arts alumnus Jon Allen ('04), of Hamilton, volunteered at the Gallery when he studied at Mercer earlier in the decade. He recalls an environment that helped him gain the foundation and confidence to continue his education. While visiting shows at the Gallery, he was encouraged by Fagan to get serious about his art. He also credits Professor Leipzig with being extremely supportive. "It was one of the most nurturing environments for developing my talent and getting the foundation to move on," he says. Allen completed his bachelor's degree at Pratt Institute and earned a master's from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 2009. Allen always recommends Mercer. "If you want to study art in this area, Mercer is the place to be."

Fagan notes that true to the show's spirit, it was volunteer effort that made it happen. Due to an injury, she was unable to install the show and an MCCC alumnus, artist Matt Lucash, of Hamilton, stepped in. "Matt coordinated and hung the show. Others helped out in various ways. That's the kind of commitment these artists have," Fagan said.

Other artists featured in "Plastics Alchemy" included Filomena DiLeo of Hamilton, Joe Mason of Hamilton, Zoe Milgram of Brooklyn, NY, Janis Purcell of East Windsor, and MCCC alumni Keiko Ishida of Cambridge, MA, Jess Martin of Robbinsville, and Flannery Miller of Plainsboro.

New volunteers are always welcome. Contact information and more information about the 2010-11 season is available here or by email at gallery@mccc.edu.


 

 

 

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Gallery volunteers featured in the "Plastics Alchemy"
exhibit included, from left, Jon Allen, Arlene Milgram,
Janis Purcell, Susan Luty and Beverly Ardos Fredericks.
Artist Renee Kumar is both a regular volunteer
and frequent exhibitor at the MCCC Gallery.
Andrea Seabridge with her piece, "Woodruff," at left.
Arlene Milgram is pictured in the background.

Artist and volunteer Janis Purcell with one of two
sculptures included in the exhibit.

Artist Beverly Ardos Fredericks expresses her fascination
with animals in her bronze sculpture, "Cheetah."