Art Alliance exhibit draws from the human body

Mary Sullivan’s “Easy Brother” is part of the Figurative Exhibition at The Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania.
Mary Sullivan’s “Easy Brother” is part of the Figurative Exhibition at The Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania. Photo provided

The Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania in Lemont will present its annual 2016 Figurative Exhibition, featuring 2-D and 3-D artwork inspired by the human figure.

“For many years, we have had an open model session so that artists can paint, draw and sculpt from a live model,” said Marie Doll, executive director of the Art Alliance. “Photographers are also inspired by this theme and a number of them will be entering.”

State College artist and photographer Chuck Fong will chair the show, and the juror is former Centre Daily Times chief photographer Pat Little. Local artists entering their work include Dotty Ford, who works in a variety of media; Mary Sullivan, a nationally known artist in paper sculpture; sculptor Jim Bright; and photographers Bob and Linda Hale, who both work almost exclusively in figurative work.

The Figurative Exhibition is not about one artist but is a community show where artists of all skill levels — using paints, chisels, brushes, clay, cameras and chisels — can display their work.

Ford worked as an art teacher with the State College Area School District for more than 35 years.

“After retiring, I became interested in making my own art,” she said. “I have studied watercolor painting with Jim Cartey at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and I meet every Thursday afternoon with three other women artists to do collage, drawing, needle-felting.”

For the Figurative Exhibition, Ford has entered a mixed media portrait titled “Soul,” using watercolor, pen and pencil.

Ford enjoys painting, drawing, collage, assemblage and needle-felting, and recently took a class in Zentangle with Donna Symons, where she enjoyed combining those patterns with other media. She has exhibited collages and watercolors at the Bellefonte Art Museum, and several years ago was the commissioned artist for the Palmer Museum of Art’s Ornament Sale.

“I feel very fortunate to have the time in retirement to be creative and to experiment with several different media,” she said. “I have had pieces accepted into various juried exhibits including those at the Art Alliance, Schlow Library and Images (the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts show).”

Growing up in a large household in Australia, State College artist Mary Sullivan said her mother was her inspiration, providing her with books, music and the love of nature.

“We made things — learned to cook, sew, knit, draw, paint and put on plays for the neighborhood families,” she said.

The pieces Sullivan has on display include profiles of heads and added materials, where handmade paper sheets of paper were formed and layered over a mold to the thickness she desired.

“I am a collector of things, and the electrical wire pieces were used to stitch into the forms similar to facial adornments or connections with my feelings at the time,” she said.

The fibers Sullivan works with are Japanese bast fibers and processed fibers like cotton linters, flax and abaca (from the banana plant).

Sullivan said she enjoys pushing the boundaries of paper pulp as it can be very seductive and an amazing medium to work in, whether sculptural, or 2-D.

“From its wet state, paper has many properties of transparency, opaqueness, strength, flexibility and fragility, to bringing beauty and new meaning to material we might normally discard,” she said. “I would want people to see the possibilities that paper can offer so they too can be curious and want to experiment and explore.”

Fong’s Penn State career began as an architecture student, but after completing his first year, he decided that his skills and temperament were better suited for the fine arts field. Fong completed his bachelor’s of fine arts with an emphasis in photography and art history.

“When I create an image I attempt to convey my personal feelings at the moment that image is captured in the camera,” Fong said. “Those emotions can range from joy to despair, anguish and pain. I’m pleased when people enjoy the beauty of my images, but it pleases me just as much if not more, if the responses are revulsion or disgust, for then I know that I have elicited emotion from my viewer.”

The show opens March 11 and runs through March 20.


  • What: The Figurative Exhibition
  • When: March 11-20; opening reception 7 p.m. March 11
  • Where: The Art Alliance of Centre Pennsylvania, 818 Pike St., Lemont
  • Info: www.artalliancepa .org