Annual Figurative Show returns with area talent on display

“Spring, New York,” a photograph by local artist Anne Cortese, is part of the Art Alliance’s 2017 Figurative Show.
“Spring, New York,” a photograph by local artist Anne Cortese, is part of the Art Alliance’s 2017 Figurative Show. Photo provided

An annual exhibition with a two decadelong history of showcasing the figurative works of central Pennsylvania artists will return Friday.

The Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania’s 2017 Figurative Show will feature 2- and 3-D pieces inspired by the human figure. The community show allows artists of all skill levels — using paints, chisels, brushes, clay and cameras — can display their talents. Each participant can enter one piece, and the entries will be judged the day of the show.

State College photographer Chuck Fong is the chair of the exhibition.

“My expectations for the show would be a packed house on opening night where the public would be able to view fine local art and to meet the artists themselves,” Fong said. “We as artists love the creative process and hope that folks will be able to find a masterpiece to purchase at our exhibit.”

State College artist Anne Buchanan, who worked for 30 years as a researcher in the anthropology department at Penn State and became interested in art after starting classes at the Art Alliance a couple of years ago, will have one piece on display in the Figurative Show — a pen and ink drawing of Charles Darwin.

“While he’s an appropriate subject given my background, I also just love drawing portraits from old black and white photographs — and there are some beautiful photographs of Darwin,” she said. “In this, and every drawing, I try to capture the essence of my subject, rather than render it literally.”

For Buchanan, visual art is very different from science, but she believes that both are explorations of truth.

“I have done a lot of portraits, and I love the moment when the drawing or painting comes alive — when the eyes begin to seem expressive, or the tilt of the mouth tells you what the person might be thinking or feeling,” she said. “The transformation of some marks on a piece of paper into three dimensions is magical every time I do it right. I hope that people who look at my work can also see the life there.”

State College artist Mary Lee Kerr has been creating portrait and figurative sculptures for 30 years. For the Art Alliance Figurative Show, she has entered a sculpture of a woman with a child nestled in her skirts, titled “Dolor.”

“It has to do with women’s struggles to parent in a world full of increasing demands,” she said.

Kerr has exhibited her work in galleries and art shows in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Her work is also in private collections in the U.S., England and Australia.

“I started to really love making art when instead of just making pretty objects, I injected meaning into my pieces, expressing something about my own life or my concerns about the state of the world,” she said. “I hope to touch the viewer’s emotional core, sparking empathy or an ‘ah-ha’ moment when they can see that someone else shares their experience.”

An opening reception for the Figurative Show will be held 7-9 p.m. Friday.


  • What: Figurative Show
  • When: Friday-March 19; opening reception 7-9 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania, 818 Pike St., Lemont
  • Info: www.artalliancepa.org