Renowned artists interact with Centre art students at summer workshop
June 3, 2010 By Marla Sweitzer
’09 proved that art is often messy at Centre’s summer art camp.
Jacqueline Beck ’10 and renowned artist Daniel Ludwig were two
of the many participants in the camp.
Twenty-five individuals attended this year's Art Camp.
Charcoal dust and the aroma of oil paints filled the studios of Jones Visual Arts Center (known informally as the Art Barn) last weekend as 25 artists gathered on Centre’s campus for four days of intensive figure drawing and painting from life at the Figure Drawing and Painting Workshop.
At the closing exhibition and open-house artists’ reception, the walls of the Art Barn were covered with more than 100 drawings and paintings from the sessions.
Dubbed “Art Camp” by the participants, the annual event began in 2006, when H.W. Stodghill Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Art Sheldon Tapley recognized the Art Barn lay dormant for several weeks prior to the arrival of Governor’s Scholars Program participants at the end of June.
“It was really an informal event,” Tapley says. “I simply contacted a few artists I knew, some of whom were alums.”
The event has since ballooned, garnering the attendance of internationally known artists, designers, college faculty, in addition to undergraduates and graduate students. This year’s crop of accomplished professionals included Gaela Erwin and Daniel Ludwig.
While a self-portrait of Erwin, who has exhibited at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, and a figure drawing of Ludwig, who is currently showing at the Allan Stone Gallery in New York City, are on permanent display in the Art Barn, being able to observe the artists at work is an invaluable aspect of the workshop each year.
“You get to see the work up close without a frame and see it being made. It relies on the students’ being curious,” Tapley says.
The camaraderie and sense of community among of the diverse group of artists is another unique aspect of the event. “We all have a commitment to trying to improve ourselves and exchanging ideas,” artist Cole Carothers says.
Centre alums Emil Robinson ’03, Shannon Eblen ’09, Kristen Robinson ’09, Thuan Vu ’95 and Rick Bennett ’80 also attended the workshop.
“I’m so impressed with the professional atmosphere,” Emil Robinson says. “Sheldon’s gifts as a teacher are clear in the high quality of work and in the earnestness of students.”
Last year Emil Robinson and Erwin were selected as finalists in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, the top portrait competition in the country. Their paintings are on display in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC until September 6, 2010.
The free workshop, which includes three-hour morning and afternoon sessions, is a unique opportunity for participants. “People are here to draw and be around each other,” Kristen Robinson says.
Typical artist workshops consist of a master artist charging a fee and individuals learning a specific set of techniques. At Centre, though, “it’s a wonderful teaching and learning experience because there’s no instruction. Students get to watch experienced artists at work,” Tapley says.
Another impetus for starting the workshop was Danville’s location. Though not far from Lexington and Louisville, “we aren’t in a city where students can go out and see other institutions and artists,” Tapley says.
The workshop, along with the CentreTerm painting and drawing course that includes a four-day trip to New York City exposes students to the art world beyond Centre and Kentucky.
Drawing from life is a foundational aspect of the Centre College studio art curriculum. The north facing windows of the Art Barn provide ample amounts of natural light, a preference of artists from the Renaissance onward.
“There’s a renaissance of figure drawing, painting and representational art that’s occurring in the United States, and this group of artists reflects it,” Tapley says.
Centre art students who have taken ARS 220 or higher are invited to the event, at which they are treated as peers alongside the professional artists. “It enables students to get a broader view of the world of being an artist, an elevated set of standards, not just alongside undergraduates. It’s encouraging to see those being successful at art,” Kristen Robinson says.