‘Exponents’ exhibit highlights faculty art

The exhibit will run from Sept. 1 to Dec. 9


Virginia Noone

Professor Joe deVera poses with his piece, “Paper Tiger”.

Maddie Stopyra, Assistant News Editor

On Sept. 1, the Wake Forest faculty exhibition, “Exponents”, opened at the Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery in Scales Fines Arts Center. For the first time in seven years, the gallery hosts pieces from nine current and recent faculty members ranging in mediums and subject matter. 

Students and spectators got a glimpse of the faculty’s professional work at the exhibition’s opening reception. Work from Professors Jennifer Gentry, Zaire McPhearson, Leigh Ann Halberg, John Pickel, Joe deVera, Choé Rager, Joel Tauber, David Finn and Bryan Ellis was displayed throughout the two-story gallery. Attendees conversed with artists amongst the artwork while some wandered through the gallery to silently study each piece. When asked about her initial reaction to the faculty exhibition, senior Madison Stafford expressed interest in her professors’ work outside the classroom. 

“I think that in the art world it is easy to not see [your professors] in action,” Stafford said. “The most I’ve ever seen Professor Holburg do in class is a couple of sketches or quick descriptions of what [the class] should be doing that day. Being able to see their work speaks to who they are and what their interests are in a way that you don’t get in class. You can see the projects and things they are passionate about.”

Like Stafford, many students attended the reception to view their professor’s work. Not only could they gain insight into the faculty’s artistic style, but they also gained exposure to the Hanes Gallery and the Department of Art. Assistant Director of Hanes Gallery Erica Palmiter described the importance of “Exponents” in the Wake Forest community.

“As the new assistant director of Hanes Gallery, I feel like this is a great moment for Wake Forest students, faculty and staff to learn about the art department,” Palmiter said. “I believe this show is particularly unique in that it provides an opportunity for students to see how these instructors think and create within their own studio practice. Hopefully, our slated gallery talks, which will occur every other week and feature an exhibiting faculty member, can bring forth critical and open dialogue about art-making.”

Many pieces in the exhibition reflect both the artist’s style and personal experiences. Viewers discover the artist’s passion through their work. deVera contributed a piece titled “Paper Tiger” to the exhibition. When asked about the story behind his work, deVera connected his time in the military to his artistic endeavors. 

“It started as a part of my other work informing autobiographically about my experiences,” deVera said. “I [am] former military and also an immigrant. It is a quasi-investigation of vulnerability. The martial units of military material with an edge of vulnerable propped-up fakeness to it. It is unsupported and draping and faux-metal. I wanted to subvert gravity [and materiality] in that way, turning it into something more vulnerable than what it portrays.”

Not only could faculty members communicate their experiences to their students, but the exposition also allows students and the wider art community to draw their own conclusions about the intention behind each piece. When asked about what he hopes audiences will draw from his work, deVera described the relationship between audience and artwork. 

“I would hope that some sort of questioning dialogue [would come from viewing this piece],” deVera said. “I don’t know if I want something specific other than [sitting] with the piece in the room. I like how it becomes in conversation with the pieces next to mine because it becomes [an] outside narrative [other than] what I am trying to portray. The multiple pieces have a conversation of materiality that would not be there if it was standing on its own.” 

“Exponents” will be open to the public until Dec. 9, 2022. More information about the exhibition and Hanes Art Gallery can be found at https://hanesgallery.wfu.edu/.