Art Department exhibit at Beach Museum features work from 23 faculty members

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Amid sculptures coated with candy wrappers and prints that describe an artist’s distaste for former President George W. Bush, two monochromatic, highly detailed fish hang on display in the Beach Museum of Art.

The two fish, made with charcoal, gesso and graphite, are the work of Kathi Mayfield, adjunct instructor of art, who was inspired to craft them as a result of the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. For the past several months, Mayfield has been working on constructing a series of fish with the goal of completing 50.

“That fish icon is just something that has come up over and over and over again in my life,” Mayfield said. “I just am really attracted to that form and I think it’s kind of primal almost. We evolved from fishes. So that’s my ancestor.”

Mayfield’s fish hang with 22 of her colleagues’ work in the “2011 K-State Department of Art Faculty Biennial.”

Gerry Craig, head of the department of art, said a show like this is a rare time in which work from around the department is shown together, as faculty members are required to show their work nationally and internationally. 

“They don’t tend to show around here very often at all, even in Kansas City,” Craig said. “They’re shipping their work to exhibitions all across the country and the world. This is kind of the only chance to see it all together, and sometimes the only chance to see a lot of the faculty’s work at all unless you knew them well enough to ask them to come to their studio.”

Craig also said this is an opportunity for students to connect with their teachers in a different perspective because of the professional setting.

“Professors might have shown them their work, but it’s really different when they go to a museum and can say, ‘Wow, that’s my teacher, the one who’s always bugging me to get my work done,'” Craig said. “They’re learning technical processes from their teachers but they really don’t understand them in the same way as when the see them in a full show.”

Martha Scott, the museum’s business and marketing manager, said the exhibition has seen fairly good attendance. The exhibit is free and open to the public and will stay on display until March 16.

“It gives the people on campus an opportunity to see what their colleagues are doing and it gives student an opportunity to see creativity that the art faculty have,” Scott said. “It’s really neat to see the different media that they work in and their creative ideas.”

Craig said because almost two-thirds of the department’s faculty are new as of the last several years, this exhibit is an opportunity for the community to get reacquainted with the department.

“K-State is an art program that is maybe a little too well kept a secret, but we’re working on that,” Craig said.

Mayfield said she enjoys having her fish on display with her colleagues and is happy to belong to the department.

“I’m so pleased with the art department now,” she said. “I think our department head has really done amazing things with it. I was away from it for a while. She’s brought in a lot of young energy and I’m just excited for the department.”

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