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Third Annual KSC Art Alumni Exhibition Opens May 2

Work by Randall Merchant '77 - oil on canvas
Work by Randall Merchant '77 - oil on canvas

The third annual KSC Art Alumni Exhibition is the final exhibit of this season at the KSC Art Department Carroll House Gallery. The KSC community and public is invited to share in the opening reception on Thursday May 2, from 4-6 p.m.

Dates of Exhibition: May 2 - May 18, reopens: June 7 and 8. Gallery hours: Wednesday through Saturday 12-5 p.m.

The KSC Art Department welcomes back five alumni: Randall Merchant (class of 1977, from Gilsum, NH); Eileen Longe (class of 2012 from Swanzey, NH); Nic Petrow (class of 2011, from Branford Ct.); Katie Houle (class of 2013, from Newtown, NH.) and Jaz Graf (class of 2000 from Jersey City, New Jersey). This exhibition presents their artworks, ranging paintings, drawings and wall installations of ceramics and printmaking inspired pieces. These artist alumni investigate abstraction, process, color, and representation. Each work depicts individual themes ranging from history, deconstruction, and personal mysteries. As part of the mission of the Art Department’s teaching gallery, current Art majors have a chance to work with the alumni and to speak with them about their experiences while studying at KSC and about their lives as practicing professional artists.

Since his graduation from KSC, in 2007, Randall Merchant continued to paint. In the past several years he was able to expand from part time to full time painting and has a studio filled with new works. Merchant’s colorful and expressive artwork has been exhibited regionally with inclusions at New England College, the Thorne Sagendorph Gallery, and juried Stonewall Farm Fundraisers. His contributions to the Alumni Exhibition will showcase a new body of paintings – completed while in Greece for three months in the fall of 2012. Inspired by the vibrant colored soil and the countries’ fantastic and ancient traditions of historical narrative and violence, Merchant’s canvases manifest a lyrical eye with gestural allusions to time and space.

Jaz Graf is presently the Associate Director of No Water No Life, a non-profit focusing on water conservation. After her graduation in 2000, Jaz Graf moved back to the New York City metropolitan area where she has been active at No Water No Life, as well as other curatorial and artmaking activities. She is an active member, and former Vice-President of the Manhattan Graphics Center, a collaborative printmaking studio. Her work has been exhibited regionally and nationally. Awards she has received include an international artist residency at Can Serrat in Barcelona. Graf’s mixed media works are grounded in their relationship to paper, and printmaking. She reexamines the content and physicality of books and the ideas within them. Fabrics and papers, are printed, torn, and resewn to be reconfigured and represented in series or installation formats. Graf’s work invokes close scrutiny as they are imbued with a fragility and luminosity. Graf is an active blogger: where she engages with presenting her own recent work and the work of artists she is inspired by.

Three recent graduates were invited to return to share their current works as they move into the larger art world. Artist Eileen Longe, who returned to college after 20 years and completed her BFA in 2012, displays her ongoing love for the pastel medium. She is represented with partially collaged drawings of small boxes. Longe’s delicate works suggest mysteries in both art and life. Her jewelry boxes enclose their contents. The viewer is asked to consider treasures what might be removed from first glance, what is buried within, underground or hidden away from everyday judgments and scrutiny.

Katie Houle completed her BFA in the fall of 2013. Her ceramic reliefs and sculptures were inspired by her experiences working in her family’s construction business. Her interest in building sites and the inevitability of deconstruction consider the constancy of change in the world. Houle sculpts quirky shapes, bits of bearing walls and piles of brick. These are construction zones and building fragments in miniature. Some of the work is sculpted, broken apart and refashioned into pieces of a landscape that is post- industrial and perhaps post-human.

Nic Petrow, class of 2011, has continued to paint with a crazed sense of abandon and rebellion. Nic’s paintings are exuberant fields of spray paint, stencils, and multiple layers of gesture and color that he compares to the addictive sweetness of gummy bears. He plans his paintings: conceptually collaborating with other artist’s written instructions. Those instructions are further interpreted by Petrow into his own work process. One is reminded of how a musician interprets a score of a composer. His lively paintings remind us that an artist has many internal or external influences and that any creative act is dependant upon selection and interpretation. Since graduation Nic had moved and lived in Boston and Austin Texas. In the fall of 2013 he will be attending the University of Delaware MFA Painting Program on full scholarship.

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