By Emily Klingman
Just like their students, Rider professors work hard to let the rest of the world see their projects. Rider art professor Harry Naar is currently featured in an exhibit at the Center for Contemporary Art titled “Line, Color and Surface.” Other artists featured besides Naar include Sue Ferguson Gussow, Geoffrey Dorfman (painting) and Tracey Jones (painting). Each bring different styles and mediums to the exhibit.
The show’s curator, Mel Leipzig, picked these artists by how well their work represented the theme.
“It was really the intensity of their work,” Leipzig said. “There is nothing superficial about them.”
This is a fairly large show, featuring approximately 44 works with each of the four artists showing an equal amount. Naar himself has 11 ink drawing pieces exhibited in the gallery, all of which deal with still life landscape.
“It’s all about landscape. I mean, there are no humans in the drawings; the landscapes derive from both perception and conceptual ideas,” said Naar. “Even though the images look believable and ‘real,’ they’re in many ways almost totally invented. This invention comes from my experience of looking, looking at nature.”
While the pieces may not be completely true to life, Naar says they allow for an interesting interplay between what people see and what they remember.
“We have two artists who are painters and who are exhibiting paintings and two artists who are dealing with the purity of the line,” said Naar. “This allows people to interact back and forth in terms of looking at how we create things from life and from memory.”
Naar is most comfortable drawing, but applies its typical techniques to other mediums such as painting.
“Drawing has always been very much a part of who I am and what I do, even when I do what we call strict painting,” said Naar. “For me, painting isn’t sort of like making a shape and coloring it in. I use the paint almost the same way as I used the drawing tool. I draw with the paint.”
Being showcased with the other artists was an honor for Naar.
“I really like it a lot,” Naar said. “When I saw the show, [it] was really exciting to see. One of the important aspects for an artist is obviously to be able to exhibit their work. You want to share what you’re creating with people.”
Leipzig had words of praise for Naar’s featured drawings, saying he was “a master at the use of line.” He also praised Gussow for her pastel and charcoal use, along with Dorfman and Jones for their paintings.
“[Gussow’s] – and everybody’s work has a terrific sensuousness to it,” said Leipzig. “[Dorfman and Jones] are both non-objective painters, but they have a terrific feeling for the paint itself, the actual physical use of the paint itself. And they’re wonderful colorists.”
Sharing his work is also an educational process for Naar. He is able to look at what he has done with a different perspective and see what works and what does not.
“Exhibiting your work, for me, is a learning experience. I take the work out of my studio, and now I can see it in a different environment. So it allows me then to look at the work in a different way, to be critical of myself.”
Naar equated this critiquing process to that of a student writing a paper for class, then getting it reviewed and revised by a peer or professor.
“It’s as if you’re writing a paper, and you think, ‘Oh, I have all these great ideas,’ and then you give it to someone else to read and they give you feedback. Then you can accept the feedback or reject the feedback,” said Naar. “The other thing is that you write something, and then you put it away for a while. When you bring it back, you see it in a new and different light. It’s the same thing I go through when exhibiting my art.”
Naar acknowledged that it is sometimes difficult to accept how the final piece has turned out, citing a friend who once had a hard time stopping work on some things.
“I had a friend once who would go into an exhibit, would look at his paintings and would not like them,” said Naar. “And he’d come back with paint and would start painting on them in the exhibit, making changes. Pretty crazy.”
Printed in the 2/4/15 edition