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Susan Bloom will present four panel Chinese screens capturing each of the four seasons.
Susan Bloom will present four panel Chinese screens capturing each of the four seasons. (HANDOUT)

When McDaniel College professor Susan Scott was planning her course on art criticism, she didn't expect her student's proverbial knives would be turned toward her work.

As it turned out, the timing of her assignment coincides with the opening of a faculty art show that includes Scott's works.

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Scott, along with eight other professors at McDaniel College, will present their artwork at the Seventh Biennial Faculty Exhibition, held in the Rice Gallery beginning Thursday, Oct. 23. The gallery features works representing faculty in the art and art history departments. The show runs through Nov. 9, according to the gallery's web page.

Scott said it wasn't until later she realized an assignment she gave requiring students to review an artistic exhibition coincided exactly with the McDaniel faculty exhibit.

Of the timing of the assignment relative to the opening of a shoe in which she is exhibiting, Scott said: "I do have some qualms about that. I don't consider myself an artist. I don't sell my work. I do it for pleasure."

She continued: "It's strange. I'm very self-conscious about it. Nonetheless, people have been very kind. I feel a little more comfortable now, but the first time was the worst."

For the show, Scott, a professor of Chinese and Japanese art history, created a series of Chinese-style screens, consisting of four large panels placed together in a mahogany frame.

Scott said her fascination with Asian art began when she was young and her father visited Japan for work. Soon, she began researching the continent's artistic traditions.

"The Chinese screen is something that is very ancient in China, and it was used there as soon as there was an aristocratic class," Scott said. "All sizes were used for decorations and also for religious purposes."

Taking inspiration from a different part of the world, Gretchen McKay, a professor of Byzantine art history, will exhibit her collages combining religious Byzantine Icons with images of beagles. McKay said the pieces came out of a period of reflecting on her passions.

"I'm a Greek Orthodox convert, so I hope I'm not risking my soul or eternal damnation by making these," McKay said. "It combines my love of beagles and my faith with my study of Byzantine art to really reflect who I am from a number of different angles."

McKay said she's not a professional artist, and wanted to exhibit as a way to step outside of her comfort zone.

"It's a little risky, and it's definitely putting my money where my mouth is," McKay said. "I'm always telling my students to take risks and step outside of their comfort zone. I tend to be pretty risk taking in my teaching and my life, and this is a more obvious way for my students to see it."

Photography instructor Walter Calahan said he sees the exhibition explicitly as a teaching tool. Calahan will exhibit 176 photographs taken over a 10-month period placed into two 3-by-7-foot panels. Calahan said he chose to take each of his photographs with his cell phone as a way to open a dialogue with his students.

"I'm a professional photographer, and the number one thing I always get is people saying 'Wow, if I only owned a camera like yours, I could take photos like you,'" Calahan said. "That's like saying 'If I only owned a NASCAR, I could drive fast and win races.'"

Each of the photos is placed together into two 88-photo collages, creating a pixelated effect from afar. Calahan said he brought his digital photography students to the exhibition earlier in the week to listen to their reactions and discuss his methodology. He said one of the things he wanted to highlight with his students was the beauty in the mundane.

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"People want go on a grand tour with photography. You think it should be done when we go on vacation or see something exotic," Calahan said. "My subject matter is the day-to-day things I see, whether it's while walking on Main Street in Westminster, things I see on my own property or things I see on campus. Most people overlook the joy of today. They don't realize you don't need to go to the other side of the planet to see something inspiring or moving."

The exhibition will also feature jewelry from Linda Van Heart, abstract acrylic paintings from Steven Pearson, paintings and sculpture from Kateryna Dovgan, pottery from Ken Hankins, multi-media work from Izabel Galliera and photography from Susan Ruddick Bloom and Robert Boner.

Reach staff writer Jacob deNobel at 410-8578-7890 of jacob.denobel@carrollcountytimes.com.

If You Go

What: McDaniel College Seventh Biennial Faculty Exhibition

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23 with artist's talk beginning 6 p.m.

Where: Rice Gallery, McDaniel College, 2 College Hill Road, Westminster

For More Information: Visit http://www.mcdaniel.edu or call 410-857-2595.

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