Artists are ‘Steppin’ Out’

First Posted: 1/6/2015

Melissa Wollmering recently graduated from Marywood University’s graduate program and is seeking a career as an artist and teacher in a challenging and competitive field.

She is one of eight other graduates of the university who are looking to get their art work displayed.

The Artists for Art Gallery in Scranton is hoping to promote a younger audience who are seeking to make a living in the art world.

“We’re reaching out to younger artists through the colleges to become more involved in the arts,” said Melissa Carestia, gallery coordinator.

“Steppin’ Out” does just that by recruiting Marywood University to display works by their graduates in a variety of mediums, including paintings, ceramics, sculpture, photography, printmaking and jewelry as well as mixed media.

The exhibit opened Friday, Jan. 2 and continues through Jan. 31 during normal gallery hours.

The title of the exhibit illustrates the aim of the students to make their mark in the art world as well as to introduce them to the community. “‘Steppin’ Out’ encapsulizes the idea of their being introduced and, hopefully, doing it in style,” Peter T. Hoffer, associate professor of art, Marywood University, said. “It’s an introduction to who I am and what I’m doing. It’s also a statement that they are leaving their formal study and going on to the next chapter in their lives.”

“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” Wollmering said. “It will be great to have a platform and exposure in the community as well as a connection to a network with other artists.”

The Scranton resident’s specialty is multi-media print making. She takes images from her childhood, where she grew up on a farm, but purposely keeps them ambiguous and full of imagination. One of her prints is what she terms a sailbag, a whimsical image of a sailboat in a bag that someone can keep slung over his shoulder and just pull it out whenever the need to escape sets in. “I like to keep my pieces open-ended and fun,” Wollmering said. “I want to have everyone who looks at it see something different. They’re poetic and lyrical so I can engage the viewer more in the piece.”

AFA had already established a relationship with Keystone College over the past five years to display their senior art works. Carestia said the gallery hopes the college affiliations will bring in a more younger audience.

Other Marywood students displaying their works are: Lori Ann Brunetti, Shane Davis, Jessica Marks, Ehab Mogheeth, Bethany Montana, Alexandra Price, Teal Porrini and Skip Sensbach. Some are recent graduates while others have graduated within the past two to three years. They are all serious about establishing a career in the arts.

While the students may have had their work displayed at Marywood’s galleries, it adds another dimension to their resume and careers to be seen in a “real” gallery.

“It’s nice for the students who are new to the art world to have an established gallery display their items,” Carestia said. “It can be a little intimidating for emerging artists to walk into a gallery and see those big white walls in which they want their work to be displayed on. This helps gave them that start.”

While Wollmering has displayed some of her works before, this is the first time that she will be attending a showing’s opening night reception. “It will be fun to see the reaction of the people who view my work,” she said. “Interaction with the public is important to an artist. It helps you. You have a close relationship with your work and sometimes you lose objectivity. Talking with the people who are looking at your work helps you to see it in a different environment.”

“It’s not easy to make a living in any of the arts, theatre or music,” Hoffer said. “It’s quite a challenge. A lot of people in the visual arts help support their work by teaching, either part time or full time. It is a very competitive world so for them to have a show encourages that development and that focus. It’s a good career opportunity for them.”

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