CCBC Dundalk artists take viewers to “Painting School”
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 11:58

Show features staff, alumni, student artists

by Nicole Rodman

    For CCBC painting instructor Sharon Trumbull, her new exhibition is all about showcasing the unique artistic voices of some of her most accomplished former and current pupils.
    The show, now on display at the CCBC Dundalk art gallery, includes pieces by Trumbull and three of her students — CCBC alumni Cathleen Sachse and Matthew Sherwood and current student Alan Stewart.
    Called “Painting School,” the exhibition features an eclectic mix of styles, subjects and media.
    “I was going for a wide variety,” Trumbull explained of the pieces chosen for the show.
    Trumbull’s aim in planning the exhibition was to present pieces that displayed both technical excellence and a unique perspective.
    “We give students techniques and tools ... I want them to find their own voice,” Trumbull explained.
    For Cathleen Sachse, a graduate of CCBC and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), her work tends to revolve around rabbits.
    “Rabbits are a really loaded symbol,” Sachse explained.
    In her work, Sachse uses rabbits to explore themes of childhood, memory and obsession.
    One of the pieces Sachse included in the CCBC exhibition is a mixed media installation entitled “As Above, So Below.”
    The piece features a giant stuffed rabbit surrounded by smaller stuffed rabbits.
    Colorful  pastel clouds — made entirely out of stuffed rabbits — are suspended overhead.

According to Sachse, the installation allows viewers to become “overwhelmed by the rabbit as a symbol.”
    Like Sachse, CCBC and MICA graduate Matthew Sherwood also utilizes mixed media to explore deeply personal themes.
    “With my work, it has to do with the things I wrestle around with in my head,” Sherwood explained.
    One of the issues that he struggles with is “thinking about different ideas of the roles men should play — different ideas of the ‘real man.’”
    “There is no one set answer because the media gives you 15 different definitions of what you need to be,” he explained.
    Among the pieces Sherwood has on display at the CCBC art gallery is a mixed media installation entitled “Plaid Figure.”
    “Plaid Figure” features the plaid-clad figure of the title sitting in front of a fire constructed from a pile of seemingly-random debris.
    Upon closer inspection, the pile is made up of objects that encapsulate the traditional view of masculinity — guns, ammunition, cars, tools, a Boy Scout sash.
    The piece invites the viewer to meditate on what it means to be a man in today’s society.
    Current CCBC student Alan Stewart also uses his art to engage the viewer.
     Stewart’s work tends to be more realistic, portraying true-to-life figures in a variety of scenes.
    “What inspires me is definitely figurative work — flesh tones, drawings from the old masters,” Stewart said.
    He pointed to American painters Thomas Eakins and John Singer Sargent, both realists who made their names as portraitists, as sources of inspiration.
    As Stewart explained, his work depicts short scenes that invite the viewer to create the backstory for themselves.
    “The viewer has to make a little bit of effort to enjoy the painting,” Stewart explained.
    One of Stewart’s pieces in the show depicts two men talking while another shows a man with an image of his own head on a platter beside him.
    In both cases, Stewart prefers to allow viewers to draw their own conclusions rather than look to him for meaning.
    Also featured in the new exhibition is a series of paintings by Trumbull herself.
    The series, called “True Crime,” includes paintings entitled “Untitled Scene,” “Shooter,” “Witness,” “Caught!” and “Framed.”
    The sequence, when viewed together, creates a compelling story for the viewer.
    Four distinct voices in one show, “Painting School” is on display through Saturday, May 3.
n“Painting School,” featuring work by Sharon Trumbull, Cathleen Sachse, Matthew Sherwood and Alan Stewart,  runs through May 3 in the  College Community Center (formerly Building K)at CCBC Dundalk, 7200 Sollers Point Road. For more information, call 443-840-4326.