Faculty art exhibits on display at Southwestern Michigan College

DOWAGIAC — Faculty members Lea Bult and Jan Kimball will share the spotlight in Southwestern Michigan College’s art gallery through Thursday, Feb. 27. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Thursday.

The rear gallery in room 108 of the Dale A. Lyons Building on SMC’s Dowagiac campus is the site of “Room to Play.”

“This is a collection of pieces inspired by my artist collective Fun Squad, founded in 2016,” said Bult, who lives in Coloma and spends time in the Benton Harbor Arts District. “The mission of Fun Squad is to activate abandoned and forgotten buildings with creative mischief and to create an alternative gallery experience that is inclusive and interactive. Art shows can be boring, with people standing around drinking wine.”

Fifteen to 20 Fun Squad artists initially revitalized what has since become GhostLight Theatre.

Bult earned her bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University’s Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan. She has worked with Greatmore Studios in Cape Town, South Africa, the Ann Arbor Art Center and the Detroit Gallery Project. She won a MacDowell Fellowship and instructs painting, drawing and design at SMC.

Kimball’s meditative “Assigned Meaning” occupies the front gallery. The wall-mounted clay-and-wire sculptures provide what visual and performing arts chairman Marc Dombrosky called a “stark visual contrast opening a beautiful dialogue between these two practices.”

“I make objects to work out ideas I am thinking over,” Kimball said. “I imagine the thoughts as objects in an attempt to translate an internal dialogue to the visual. Art can be a non-verbal communication, and I want to hear what is conveyed to the observer. I am fascinated at how effectively the pieces can communicate and expand the conversation.”

Kimball said she usually does not offer clues to the source of her inspiration, but she confided that she was thinking of constellations.

She quit writing explanatory artist’s statements after painting a piece with colors she remembered from Crete, and then a show patron unexpectedly also mentioned Greece’s largest island.

Kimball said the wire incorporates shadows from the gallery lights.

“Here, the shadows are more important than the wire,” she said.

She also used red clay for a reason, too.

“I wanted that earthiness to peek through,” she said. “I don’t picture flying objects in space being porcelain. I used a little silver to pick up the light, which was important because of the shadows.”

Kimball, who teaches art appreciation, creative process and ceramics, has a master’s degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She previously taught at the Morean Art Center, St. Petersburg College and Eckerd College, all in St. Petersburg, Florida.