In celebration of Mary Farrell, a recently retired professor of Gonzaga’s art department, Gonzaga University Urban Arts Center (GUUAC) is celebrating Farrell’s work and contribution to GU in the exhibit, “Meditation on Place: Prints and Drawings from the Last 25 Years.”
The exhibit captures only a portion of the artwork Farrell created during the 25 years she taught at GU.
GUUAC's gallery space has been filled with a wide range of work significant to Farrell, in addition to a feature of works from five former students.
"Meditation on Place: Prints and Drawings from the Last 25 Years" displays Farrell’s experience with a variety of print processes, including wood cut, linoleum, print cuts, lithography, etching, mezzotint and dry print. Many of her works combine a number of these processes.
Farrell has created art her entire life, but was first introduced to printmaking as an undergraduate at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. She also received a master's of fine arts at University of Cincinnati, with a concentration in drawing and printmaking.
Through art, Farrell aspires to seek meaning in the world. Her pieces often reflect a figurative nature, incorporating both plant and human forms and displaying geography and topography as her creative inspiration.
“When I draw a figure, I am very aware that the kinds of marks I’m making to define the form of that figure are very landscape, because you are moving over that surface and over that form,” Farrell said.
The type of printmaking process she selects impacts her creative undertaking of the ideas that surrounding her art.
“It was me thinking, ‘what if rather than doing this extrapolation of that pattern, I project that pattern onto wood and carve it? What if I did something where my body actually touching the surface created that form?’” Farrell said. “So, it was the idea and the process working back and forth simultaneously inspiring each other.”
Although “Meditation on Place: Prints and Drawings from the Last 25 Years” highlights Farrell’s work in printmaking, she is most passionate about drawing.
Most of the art of printmaking directly relates to drawing, she said.
Farrell’s favorite featured work in the exhibit is titled “Meditation on Skin,” a modular piece comprised of 100 small drawings.
“Meditation on Skin” was created in 2005, at the same time Farrell’s husband had a stroke. With minimal time to work on her art in her studio and a show quickly approaching, she utilized patterns of skin she had created from her hands and feet.
After making numerous drawings with powdered graphite and alcohol from her invented patterns, Farrell selected 100 of her favorites.
They all resemble miniature landscapes, Farrell said.
Carley Schmidt, former student and GU alumna, had Farrell as her first art professor at GU.
“She really become a mentor to me, and she still is,” Schmidt said. “She helped me come into my own and realize that being an artist was a viable career option and something I could seriously pursue. I will forever be grateful for that because now I’m living it.”
Schmidt said it is important for students to take advantage of participating in opportunities like Farrell’s “Meditation on Place: Prints and Drawings from the Last 25 Years.”
“I think it’s always important to have an understanding of the types of research and the types of work that our professors are doing, just in general,” Schmidt said. “I think it gives students an idea of a path that their own work may take them not just in the arts, but in all fields.”
Kathleen Delaney Carr, former student and GU alumna, said she finds inspiration in Farrell’s devotion to both teaching and her personal artistry.
In honor of her expertise and generosity as an educator, Carr selected pieces she created in either Farrell’s or GU's print studio.
“Generous—that is the type of educator that Mary is,” Carr said. “She just was so generous with all her talents, time and energy. She really devoted herself to giving all that she could to her art students.”
“Meditation on Place: Prints and Drawings from the Last 25 Years” will be shown through Oct. 22 at GUUAC, located at 125 S. Stevens St. Students also have the opportunity to join a gallery walk through led by Farrell on Oct. 7.
“For me to see all of [my] work over a long period of time, all up together, helps me to put a lot of thoughts together,” Farrell said. “And that has really been wonderful.”