Barry McNamara  |   Published August 22, 2016

‘Method & Memory’

Exhibit by art faculty, including new professor Au, on display through Sept. 16
  • Visiting Assistant Professor Eliza Au stands near a piece from “Method & Memory,” the current exhibition on display in the Len G. Everett Gallery.
Three “new” members of Monmouth College’s art department have their work on display in the College’s Everett Gallery.

Titled “Method & Memory,” the exhibit will be on display through Sept. 16. A gallery reception and talk will be held at 3 p.m. Aug. 26 in the gallery, located on the upper level of Hewes Library. The exhibit features a total of 22 pieces, which include: oil, chalk pastel on paper, ceramic and mixed media.

Two of the exhibit’s artists aren’t exactly new to the College, but the other artist is a newcomer to Monmouth.

Stephanie Baugh – who has nine pieces of mixed media collages on a panel – joined the faculty in 2005, and she was promoted this year to a full-time, tenure-track assistant professor position.

Jessica Bingham Ott – whose six pieces include oil, chalk pastel on paper and one piece of rose petals, fabric rose petals and sand – is a 2012 Monmouth graduate who joined the department this year as a lecturer. Her many accomplishments as an artist include receiving the Best of Show honor at a juried show on campus during her post-baccalaureate year at Monmouth.

The third faculty member featured is brand new to Monmouth – visiting Assistant Professor Eliza Au. She joined the faculty after teaching two years at the University of Iowa. Prior to that, she taught five years in her native Canada.

Au received her bachelor of fine arts at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and her master of fine arts at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. She said her decision to pursue ceramics full-time did not come until her third year of undergraduate work.

“Throughout my life, I knew I wanted to pursue art as my career, but I wasn’t sure which field,” said Au, who particularly remembers being influenced by Marek Cecula’s “Porcelain Carpet.”

During that third year, she spent a semester at the Rhode Island School of Art and Design, where she did a mold-making project.

“I was very interested in that,” she said. “I realized that the kind of art I wanted to make meshed really well with that particular process.”

It also meshed with Au herself.

“My personality is about order and structure, and that’s how I like to work, too,” she said.

Au said her seven ceramic pieces in the exhibit are “an exploration of how man has used pattern as a metaphor for the idea of spirituality and the divine – the relationship to sacred space as an environment for worship.”

Au is teaching “Hand-Built Ceramics” and “Wheel-Thrown Clay” this semester. In the spring, she will lead Monmouth’s “Exhibition” and “Design” classes, in addition to teaching another section of “Wheel-Thrown Clay.”

Au typically assigns three or four projects per semester. She has students devise a plan for each project and conduct research on artists and their influences. When a project is completed, her class holds a group critique, where students are asked to “describe, analyze, interpret and evaluate” their peers’ work.

When the spring semester comes to an end, the well-traveled Au will be in transit again, flying to China for an artist-in-residency program, thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

She has previously completed residencies with Greenwich House Pottery in New York City, The Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Ore., The Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Wash., and the Corning (N.Y.) Museum of Glass.

When not teaching or working on her own art, Au enjoys running, restaurants and visiting museums, including the Art Institute in Chicago, which is also home to another of her favorites, the Sculptures Objects Functional Art + Design Fair.
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