The annual Faculty/Student Exhibition at the Columbia Art Center lets you know that its teachers and students have been busy. Paintings, watercolors, drawings and other artwork cover the walls, with ceramics and jewelry occupying pedestals and seemingly every other flat surface.
Among the exhibiting instructors, it's easy to see some of the visual lessons being imparted. Robert Coe's watercolor "Angles," for example, is a straightforward depiction of a red-sided barn that's equally direct in demonstrating how an artist can build a pictorial design based on intersecting straight and diagonal lines.
Subject matter does not have to be grand in order to be worthy of an artist's attention, as Chaya Schapiro proves with her oil painting "Red Truck." Parked next to modestly scaled houses, this bright red truck is the compositional center of attention. Schapiro emphasizes the blocky forms of the truck and houses, while also incorporating a utility pole by way of a vertical contrast.
The choice of medium obviously relates to how the subject matter will come across. Roslyn Zinner's mosaic panel "Nelson Mandela" combines many small pieces to create an instantly recognizable portrait of that South African politician. Mandela's big smile seems especially toothy owing to its individual white "teeth."
Working in ceramics, Jann Tamburello's rust-colored "Leaf Teapot" has a leafy pattern painted on the curving side of the pot. You might find yourself mulling over earthy and organic thoughts while drinking a cup of tea poured from this pot.
Among the numerous students exhibiting in this show, one of the most eye-catching artworks is Camille Varacka's fused glass platter titled "Psychedelic." Its banded shades of orange, red, blue and green seem all the more psychedelic because of the glossy surface that makes these colors glow.
Much more restrained is Dorothy Shannon's small stone sculpture "Stalker," which depicts a cat that seems poised to pounce. This sculpture relies upon a few angular sides to suggest how a cat would appear when it's stalking prey.
Creating ceramics that would be at home for an outdoor event, Donna Rose's "Garden Tea Party" is a tea service whose squat forms and brown tones make an herbal tea seem like it would be the best choice for such a tea party. Furthering the sense of being in nature is the fact that two creamers are shaped like open-mouthed baby birds.
Nature also directly relates to an artwork realized in a very different medium. Joyce J. Ritter's quilt "Chincoteague Angel" has a representation of an angel whose upturned face seemingly acknowledges an outlined eagle in the sky. This quilt is most notable, though, for the wave-evocative coils repeated in the blue and green squares comprising the bottom half of the quilt.
Unlike such clearly defined imagery, the representational references are quite literally cut up into tiny pieces in Barbara Marley's paper collage "Verdance." Organic references are densely mixed in with references to manmade things such as automobiles.
This exhibit of primarily student work also includes artwork made by very young students. Leslie Lin's graphite drawing "Self-Portrait" incorporates a line of text informing us that the artist is eight years old. She only needs a few lines to define her face, which greets the viewer in an open and optimistic manner.
Striking a humorous note, Ryan Croft's graphite drawing "Hot Cocoa Boy" depicts a smiling child holding a mug. Floating atop the hot cocoa are several marshmallows that have smiles drawn on them. Leave it to a kid to remind us that something as simple as a mug of hot cocoa can make your day.
The annual Faculty/Student Exhibition runs through May 25 at the Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth in Long Reach Village Center in Columbia. Call 410-730-0075 or go to http://www.columbiaartcenter.org.