Galleries : Figures show at Featherstone
Something mysterious happens when you look at a portrait of the human body. When a drawing or a painting moves you, it's as though you have connected with the artist or the work in an intimate way. Tom Carberry who leads the Firehouse Figure Drawing Group says, "We want our drawings to come alive in the mind of the observer. The best pieces are not necessarily the most photographically realistic, they are the one's that have an intangible quality of life."
Featherstone Center for the Arts presents "Faces and Figures," a collection of drawings, paintings, and sculptures of faces and human bodies, from May 31 through June 17. Many of the pieces in the exhibit have been created by members of the life drawing group who regularly meet at Featherstone, a group that is an extension of the Tom Maley Life Drawing Group and the Firehouse Figure Drawing Group.
Jackie Mendez-Diez, who has lived on the Island for 10 years, has attended the Tom Maley Life Drawing Group. "I love drawing from a life model," she said. "It's a very intimate feeling. The drawing group adds an important social element to the artistic process too, which I really appreciate."
Francine Kelly, the executive director of Featherstone, explained the purpose of the "Faces and Figures" exhibit by saying, "Our goal at Featherstone Center for the Arts is to support Vineyard-based artists, and every show is an attempt to promote a different facet of the artist's community. We want to offer various artists exposure at Featherstone. This will be a different show because it will emphasize the human face and body; it will be human."
For another artist, this show represents a return to her work with life models. Jeanne Staples spent her first two years in art school dedicated to drawing life models. "For a long time I have worked primarily in landscapes," she said, "but at a certain point I wanted to get back to drawing people."
Ms. Staples attended a few life-drawing classes to get back to her figurative work, and now works independently. Elaborating on her reasons for showing her work in "Faces and Figures," she said, "I really admire and appreciate Featherstone Center for the Arts. It hugely contributes to the artistic community on our Island, which is why I want to participate in this show."
Ann Gallagher, who leads the Tom Maley Life Drawing Group, said, "This group is open to all artists who are interested in working with life models. We meet at Featherstone Center for the Arts every Tuesday morning from 9:30 to 11:30 and just draw. I tell all our participants 'Nobody is ever going to see this if you don't want them to. Just sit back, draw and have fun.'"
Mr. Carberry added, "The goal is not a finished and polished work, but to [learn to] render a live figure. The best thing we can hope for is to capture the spirit and personality of the model."
Faces & Figures reception, 4 to 6 pm, Sunday, May 31, Featherstone Center for the Arts, Oak Bluffs. Through June 17. 508-693-1850.
Apphia Williams is a freelance writer living in Chilmark.