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(2016) WCSU to present spring semester artist lecture series

Image of a work by painter Julie HeffernanDANBURY, CONN. — Internationally acclaimed painters and illustrators whose works have been featured in exhibitions, collections and publications worldwide will discuss their artistic vision and creative process during the Western Connecticut State University spring semester Master of Fine Arts lecture series continuing from January through April.

Each of the six lectures, sponsored by the WCSU Department of Art M.F.A. in Visual Arts program, will be at 11 a.m. in Room 144 of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. Admission will be free and the public is invited.

The series will begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, with a lecture by painter Stephanie Pierce, whose observational approach offers an artistic exploration through her works of relationships between light, time and sound and the ways in which reality is perceived and reconsidered over time. Artist notes for her 2015 “Radiant Water” show at the Alpha Gallery in Boston remarked, “Using everyday subjects such as a bed by a window, Pierce explores the shifting of time and light to create a brief presence that threatens to fall apart.”

A member of the art faculty at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville since 2007, Pierce received her B.F.A. at the Art Institute of Boston and her M.F.A. from the University of Washington. She is represented by Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects in New York and the Alpha Gallery, and has presented solo and group exhibitions of her works over the past 23 years at museums and galleries across the United States. Her works also have been featured in The New Yorker magazine and are held in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Boston Public Library, the Scholastic Corporation, Wellington Management, Joan and Roger Sonnabend, and William Dreyfus.

Other lectures in the spring M.FA. series will present artists whose paintings are viewed in collections worldwide and whose illustrations have appeared in national publications and on Broadway. Featured lectures will include:

Wednesday, Feb. 10: Illustrator Tim O’Brien has created his intricately detailed illustrations and portrait drawings of leading public figures from Hillary Clinton to Vladimir Putin for publications worldwide including Time, Newsweek, Esquire, Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, Der Spiegel, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones and Readers Digest. His illustrations also have been featured by major publishing houses as cover art for widely circulated books including “The Hunger Games” series, as well as on several U.S. postage stamps and in popular advertisements. Recipient of the Hamilton King Award from the Society of Illustrators, O’Brien also has received awards from the Society of Illustrators in New York and Los Angeles, Communication Arts Magazine, the Society of Publication Designers, American Illustration and the Art Directors Club. More than a dozen of his illustrations are held in the collection of the National Gallery. He is president of the Society of Illustrators New York and a faculty member at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Monday, Feb. 22: Painter Matt Murphy, an artist who has shown widely at galleries in his native Boston area as well as in New York City, described his works in a Painter’s Table interview as “caught between the world of illusion and the object, with no clear way to resolve this. I find some ideas must be objects posing as paintings and sometimes paintings posing as objects, while still other times paintings are simply paintings.” An art instructor at Montserrat College of Art, Murphy earned a B.F.A. from the Massachusetts College of Art and an M.F.A. from the University of Washington. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions in the eastern United States, Arkansas and Washington state, most recently at the New Bedford Art Museum in Massachusetts and the FP3 Gallery in south Boston. His awards include the Pace Gallery Award in 2003 and the Mass MoCA Assets for Artists Grant in 2013.

Wednesday, March 9: Illustrator Ellen Weinstein, a New York City native and graduate of the Pratt Institute, has exhibited her works at many New York galleries as well as other venues in the United States and Italy. Her illustrations have been featured by diverse magazine and book publishers including the New York Times, GQ Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Time, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic and O, The Oprah Magazine. “She plays with perspective and proportion, often juxtaposing super-flat painted images with more textural, photographic ones,” wrote Sue Apfelbaum in Communication Arts magazine. Weinsten told the interviewer she likes “to play with what’s real and unreal to create this open space for a metaphor.” Weinstein is an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design and has lectured widely at art schools and workshops worldwide, serving as president of the ICON8 illustration conference in 2014 in Portland, Oregon. She serves on the board of directors of the Society of Illustrators New York, and has received honors for her work from American Illustration, the Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts Illustrated Annual, the Society of Publication Designers and the Art Directors Club.

Wednesday, April 6: Painter Ying Li, a native of Beijing, China, who immigrated to the United States in 1983, has established a reputation during her career spanning nearly three decades as an artist who works in the space where abstraction and representation meet. New York art critic David Cohen wrote in a review of her work that Li has “a touch to die for in terms of bravura paint handling.” Recipient of an M.F.A. from the Parsons School of Design, she is a professor of fine arts at Haverford College and has earned numerous awards including the Edwin Palmer Memorial Prize for Painting and the Henry Ward Ranger Fund Purchase Award. She has staged solo exhibitions at many sites including the New York Studio School; Dartmouth, Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr colleges; the Lohin Geduld Gallery; the Painter Center, and galleries in Ireland, Italy and Switzerland. Li’s works also have been featured in many group exhibitions across the United States and in France, including shows at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Academy Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Art, the Hermitage Foundation Museum and the Chautauqua Institute.

Monday, April 18: Painter Julie Heffernan, who received her B.F.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz and her M.F.A. from the Yale School of Art, observed in her artist statement that she has become “very interested in what narrative painting could mean in an age where we look to film and video for our visual stories. If I’m lucky, I’ll unearth a deeper story in the process of painting than the one I started with, which takes me to a more complex level of understanding.” For the past two decades, she has presented at least one solo exhibition each year in museums and galleries across the United States and in Europe, and her works are part of major collections including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the National Academy Museum, the New Britain Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Art. A professor of fine arts at Montclair State University, she has received many awards including the MacDowell Fellowship, the Thomas R. Proctor Prize, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She observed on her website that her recent work has focused on “making sense of the world around me after calamities such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. My work allows the eye to meander through spaces, across rivers, get lost in thickets, singed by forest fires, pass by warning signs and under control towers that speak, in smoke signals, to our great distress.”

For more information, contact the WCSU Department of Art at (203) 837-8403.

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