‘Beautiful little connections’: Archer revives faculty, staff art show


Photo credit: Celeste Ramirez

Art inside the Faculty and Staff art show in the Eastern Star Gallery. The exhibit featured everything from ceramics and paintings to poems and printed fabrics.

The Arts Department presented the Archer faculty and staff exhibit at the Eastern Star Gallery from September through October of this year. Mediums ranged from photography and painting to poems and ceramic pieces. 

This is not the first faculty and staff show the Eastern Star Gallery has hosted. Assistant Head of School and Middle School Director Karen Pavliscak said that this year’s show revived an old Archer tradition.

During photography teacher Marya Alford’s first year of teaching, the faculty art show was organized by former studio art teacher Emily Silver. Two years ago, due to a change in faculty and the difficulty of having teachers submit pieces every year, the show went on a hiatus.

After thinking all summer about reviving the show, Alford brought it up at a department meeting. She was excited that other faculty expressed interest in the show.

“Students are always putting on shows for us. You walk through the art hallway and we see all of your work throughout the school year, and so we thought it would be a really beautiful and inspiring way for you guys to come back to school and see a little bit of what we do on the side,” Alford said.

About the Art

Students that entered the gallery were able to watch Chad Attie’s video and audio or a slideshow showing photography from various faculty and staff such as Alison Hirshan or Enrique Montoya. They could read Lauren Bahedry’s poems or take note of Olivia Moon’s ceramic pieces, all while listening to Megan Hook’s musical album.

Student Support Coordinator and junior class dean Jennifer Dohr shared an emotional personal poem in the gallery about her mother who passed away in 2015 of cancer. In the poem titled “It’s my turn (I’m sorry) to Disappear,” she wrote about her experience and inner ‘turmoil’ when dealing with loss.

“I think every person on this planet can connect to the concept of loss, from our youngest sixth graders through to the oldest members of our community, ” Dohr said. “In picking a piece for a public space, I suppose I wanted something that was accessible to any age.”

Photo credit: Celeste Ramirez
Assistant Head of School and Middle School Director Karen Pavliscak’s horse paintings were featured in the gallery.

Studio art teacher Carolyn Janssen displayed a printed fabric piece that is a part of a greater project she has been working on outside of school. In this project, she takes photographs from her daily life and collages them all together to later be printed on a large fabric.

As a teacher, I really encourage the young artists in my life to be vulnerable, take risks, put themselves out there and be fearless,” Janssen said. “Even though it made me feel vulnerable to share the art with the school, I knew it was important for me to do what I ask my students to do everyday.”

Assistant Head of School and Middle School Director Karen Pavliscak showed her a couple of horse paintings she made over the summer. She has ‘dabbled’ in multiple mediums for a few years.

“As teachers, we often feel like we have to conform to our subject area,” said Pavliscak. “That show offers a great opportunity for photography from the modern language teacher or some of the painting from our CFO. I mean, who knew?”

Surprising Connections

Alford, who hung the show, commented on the unexpected, spontaneous connections she saw between contributors’ work. 

“There were beautiful little connections that were made. The music teacher, Ms. Hook, her album has references to celestial bodies and the stars and the night sky and then Ms. Bahedry had a poem that referenced that,” Alford said. “Then Ms. Thomason had photographs of the Northern Lights and so those connections were very interesting in the show.”

After going visiting the gallery, Dohr felt that the exhibit had the power to help people connect with one another and understand each other on a different level.

We should be able to go have a cup of coffee and talk about poetry and painting,” Dohr said. “I really think Marya Alford ought to be celebrated for helping us get to know one another more deeply, which I’m sure was not her intent in creating the gallery but was certainly a ramification of the exhibit.”

‘Inspiring’ Impact

Photo credit: Celeste Ramirez
A section of the gallery showing various teacher’s work, such as Carolyn Janssen’s fabric collage.

Pavliscak described the gallery as a rich celebration that showed the artistry, commitment and passion some of the staff has for art. 

“It showed a really beautifully creative new facet to the professionals of Archer and I got to see — in a blur of color and language and sound — the really dedicated, passionate, creative people who would invest their lives in this place, ” Pavliscak said. “It made me really proud and it made me inspired by their example.”

She expressed excitement about next year’s show and said she looks forward to seeing art from a greater diversity of faculty members. 

“Now that some of the newer teachers who didn’t know what that was saw the rich array of art, they may be more inclined next year to submit,” she said. “I think next year is going to be even better.”

Janssen characterized the show as a representation of Archer’s supportive environment.

“[The show] just reminds me of what I love about Archer, in that people are fearless, creative and willing to take risks,” Janssen said. “Archer is a place where [we] can all bring our creative selves and be in conversation and in community with each other.”