A piece from Laura Moriarty

The Handwerker Gallery, an art exhibition and teaching space at Ithaca College, endowed by Murray Handwerker, scion of the Nathan’s Famous chain, has an active schedule of exhibits and events scheduled for fall 2014. In addition to the oft-changing images on the walls, the gallery hosts a lecture series, artist talks, art films and other events.

The season just opened with “Oral Fixation” and “Scratched Record,” two very different takes on the natural universe. Julia Randall’s hyperrealistic drawings and paintings of mouths and tongues has been described by the artist as “surreal and suggestive, simultaneously erotic and humorous, beautiful and repulsive.” Laura Moriarty, whose show title references the earth’s surface engraved by human activity, paints with pigmented beeswax, a technique known as “encaustic.”

“I do this in my own way,” she said, in a pause from putting up her exhibit. “The heating and cooling of the wax is a metaphor for the way geologic processes happen. I have this ongoing process where my studio functions like a little ecosystem. Nothing gets wasted, everything gets used, I’m constantly building up and breaking down these paintings.” The finished work can call to mind the strata of memory below the earth’s surface and is often sculptural.

Artist talks will be presented by Julia Randall at 6 pm on September 18; Laura Moriarty will talk about her work at 6 pm on Thursday, Sept. 25.

“Letters to our Former Selves,” opening Thursday, Oct. 2, profiles the work of five Ithaca College alumni, all active artists doing very different work. “It’s like five solo shows,” explained Mara Baldwin, director of the Handwerker Gallery. The artists, Pilar Nadal, Elise Nicol, Michael Robinson, Michael Sirianni and Tamsen Wojtanowski work in a variety of media, from video to photography to traditional painting.

Elise Nichol, whose work is often on display locally at the Corners Gallery on Hanshaw Road, originally studied theatre at Ithaca College, and is now an artist/photographer. Her work starts out as either drawings or photographs. “I draw on the photographs or re-photograph drawings,” she said. “It’s hard to describe—but it ends up being a photographic montage, an archival print bonded to plexiglass.” The marriage of the image and the plexiglass creates dimensionality, she explained.

Tamsen Wojtanowski also didn’t start as an art major either. When she began at Ithaca College, she’d mapped out a career as a physical therapist, thinking about the art she loved as a private way to express her thoughts. “I used to be very shy, and now I’m just a little bit shy,” she said. Teaching women how to play rugby taught Wojtanowski that everyone—including herself—was learning about more than rugby. She currently teaches photography, and uses the medium as a beginning point for her artistic intuition. She described some of what she does as “Camera-less photography and photographic processes that have more in common with printmaking.” Currently an adjunct professor of photography, she noted, “Maybe not all my students will pursue art, but it’s a way to find their voice.”

“Divergent Series,” a faculty show, opens Thursday, Nov. 13, and will feature works by Pamela Rozelle Drix, Dara Engler, Sara Ferguson, Jason Harrington, Bill Hastings, Patricia Hunsinger, Janice Levy, Lin Price, Minna Resnick, Megan Roberts, Raymond Ghirardo, Carla Stetson, Sarah Sutton, Susan Weisend, and Robyn Wishna. This exhibit closes December 14.

There is a common thread running through the fall’s very different exhibits. “This year’s six exhibitions and related events have been shaped to examine the importance of the archival collection,” Baldwin wrote in gallery’s fall brochure. The exhibits encourage an examination of “the innovative, creative, and often problematic process of collecting and classification; and the human nature of collectors to decipher meaning and stories from a group of objects.”

All programming and exhibits are free and open to the public. Find a complete schedule of current events and hours at the gallery at Ithaca.edu/handwerker and at facebook.com/handwerkergallery. §

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