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Community Identity Art Exhibit opens in Hamersly Library

By Jared J. Smith | Freelancer
On January 24, 2012

On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the rush and clamor of flood warnings were left behind upon entering Hamersly Library, wherein a modest gathering celebrated the works of artists Rollie Wisbrock and Judy Wong. The attendees included a mixture of students and other members of the community. Both exhibits populated the second and third floor of the library; on the second floor, attendees were met with Wisbrock's "We Are Family." Here, pages of his sketchbook had been removed and mounted upon tempered hardboards then hung along the wall for observation and pondering.


The purpose of this was, as Exhibits Coordinator for the Archive's Assistant at Hamersly Library Jerrie Lee Parpart said, "to depict various members of the community in within their own natural way of things." Wisbrock had challenged himself to sit for a limited time and sketch then paint a stranger, whether it be in a coffee shop or a café. The challenge came with deciding on what would be the stranger's defining characteristics. "My only hope," said Parpart, "is that visitors are able to acquire a new appreciation for a new perspective of the community around them." Indeed, she wanted attendees to see how any community of people is truly a "family." When asked if Wisbrock had succeeded in his purpose, Jerrie Lee said, "I believe so . . . It is very difficult not to feel something profound for either of these artists' vision."


The third floor of Hamersly Library displayed the work of Judy Wong. Her exhibit was entitled "Hidden Transparencies" and it focused on the dehumanization of people on Death Row. Its inspiration came from the work of Dr. Dean Brooks, superintendent for many years at the Oregon State Hospital, who believed in giving patients more of their humanity back. Wong's exhibit had a very direct and moving message: can these individuals fit back into society after treatment?  Parpart said "how difficult this transition can be . . . [Wong] shows these individuals in a certain way that makes you take a step back, a step outside of yourself, and she makes you realize exactly what she is trying to come to terms with . . . it is very perceptive, and the art is very self-aware."


Such has been the way of things for the art exhibits at Western, especially within the last few years. Parpart seemed very pleased with the turnout of attendees compared with past events. It generally takes a full term, upwards to a full school year, to plan and put together. The artists featured are very serious and practiced on what they display. Most of what is seen at these exhibits is "a collective of their senior work."


"You can tell," said Jordan L. Ellison, a Chemeketa graduate and OSU junior in Zoology, "how hard they have worked. Some of the details are so fine it is difficult to imagine these come from students . . . I do not consider myself to have much of an artistic eye, but I can definitely tell good art from bad art . . . in this case, it is a matter of telling good [art] from professional [art] . . . both [artists] here know what they are doing. I am really impressed."

Some pieces, as seen before and on Wednesday, have already been purchased. The rest are still available to buy.


A steady flow of attendees populated both floors Wednesday evening; that is not to say it was the only chance to view these exhibits. Both exhibits will be up and running until the beginning of March. They can be viewed at all open hours in Hamersly Library: Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. until midnight; Fridays until 6 p.m.; Saturdays from noon until 6 p.m., and Sundays until midnight.

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