CEDAR FALLS – A collection of blockhead puppets hang from the ceiling on strings in a corner of the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art. At first glance, it can be difficult to separate one puppet from another in UNI art professor Jeff Rufus Byrd’s “Meeting.” Each puppet is wooden and wears a “suit”, but their uniformity is interrupted by their colorful and individualistic ties.
On the other side of the gallery, odds and ends are set in the concrete in a long row of hipped-roof toolboxes, a multimedia installation by Tim Jorgensen. Nearby, a piece of graphite is pulled across a paper by a weighted plumb bob fed by a disco ball inside an 11-foot-tall aluminum frame in Dan Perry’s drawing machine sculpture.
It’s an entirely new piece, Perry said, and done in just a week. “It’s one of those things where I challenged myself to do something completely new and gave myself a deadline to do it using the tools and materials I had. The disco ball motor I had from an older piece that no longer exists,” said Perry, UNI sculpture faculty member and coordinator of the public art incubator in Cedar Falls.
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The frame with its architectural details, including a steeple top, allowed Perry to use his carpentry skills to shape the aluminum using a carbide saw. It’s bolted together “so it’ll come apart if I want to change anything.” The plumb bob is cast in resin,” explained Perry, who is known for his often large-scale metal sculptures such as Culminata, a stainless steel and heat-colored stainless steel sculpture that sits near the Rod. UNI Library.
Colored lighting – sorry, no flickering effects – draws attention to the plumb line as it moves rhythmically across the paper. “It was interesting to see people engage with the piece because with a big piece, people are usually looking up. With this piece, they’re looking down at the design.
These and other works of art are among more than a dozen pieces on display in the art faculty’s art department’s 2022 exhibition, through February 25. The exhibition is an official presentation of recent achievements by the faculty of UNI’s Department of Art.
“Students need to see and appreciate the creative lives of their teachers,” said Darrell Taylor, UNI Art Gallery Director. The exhibition features a variety of artworks created by UNI’s Faculty of Art, including paintings, prints, graphics, sculptures, collages, photographs, videos, mixed media, art history and installation scholarships.
“This is probably the 15th or 16th teacher exhibition since I’ve been here. Originally it was an annual show, then it became biennial. The show would have been last year, but we featured UNI Arts teacher Jo Ann Schnabel and her former UNI ceramics students. She retired from teaching at the end of 2021, so we moved that show into the new year,” Taylor explained.
“Like any artist, our teachers continue to work on their art and maintain professional careers, and exhibiting their work shows that the need to create doesn’t stop when you leave school. It also allows students to see how their faculty express themselves creatively in different ways,” he said.
In addition to Byrd, Perry and Jorgensen, featured artists are Noah Doely, Alexandra Dooley, Tim Dooley, Ken Hall, Soo Hostetler, Wendy Miller, Riva Nayaju, Elizabeth Sutton, Bryan Van Donslear and Aaron Wilson.
All events are free and open to the public. Visitors must wear masks and social distance when attending gallery events. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and by appointment. The UNI Art Gallery is located in the Kamerick Art Building.