Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Creative spirit on display

"Dear Jeff" by Virginia Fitzgerald
Today I had the pleasure of taking two of my Framingham State University classes to visit the Fountain Street Fine Art Gallery, located a few miles from the campus. I do this every semester, and it is always a pleasure to introduce my students to this wonderful resource, which features area artists. A trip like this gives my young students, who will soon graduate and embark on life's journey, a sense of the need to seek and appreciate creative expression.

The exhibit we had the good fortune to catch this time was "Breaking Open," a two-person show of two- and three-dimensional works by Virginia Fitzgerald and Anne Gilson. As co-gallerist and photographer Marie Craig gave us a tour of the exhibit, she asked the students to select particular pieces for her to talk about. It was evident from the immediate raising of hands when Marie invited this input that the students were enthusiastic and curious about ALL of the works on display. Virginia's sculpture "Dear Jeff" (pictured left, which was commissioned by a man who lost his fiancee in the events of 9/11) seemed to be the one that elicited the most interest. Most of my students were at the impressionable age of 12 during the event that inspired the work, and you could see the tragedy's lingering impact on their faces when they heard that date mentioned in Marie's description.

The most impressive takeaway from our visit, and the one which I think will provide an ongoing memory for the class, is Virginia's creative approach to LIFE. It was apparent from this exhibit that every day is an adventure to her. New artistic ideas are always flashing through her mind, new expressive possibilities are always suggesting themselves to her, and she is always seeking new methods and materials to communicate her ideas and visions. Her open-mindedness and free spirit are inspiring, especially to these college students whose lives at this stage are increasingly suffocated by deadlines, requirements, and responsibilities. It's important to remind them that one of the reasons we are here (The Reason, in my book) is the need to savor the sensuous, impractical events in our lives, and our field trip experience today provided that example.

Many thanks to Marie Craig, who welcomed us so warmly; to Cherie Clinton, who invited us into her studio and gave us a first-hand glimpse of the creative process; and to Virginia Fitzgerald and Anne Gilson, who shared their artwork with us.

Framingham State students view "Breaking Open" (photo by Marie Craig)
A complete selection of images from the show can be seen HERE.

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