WCJC art instructors showcase original masterpieces

Photo by Benjamin Sharp
WCJC art instructor Jess Coleman talks about the details of one of his oil on canvas paintings that will be on display as part of the Faculty Art Exhibit.

Wharton County Junior College’s art instructors practice what they preach. Just take a look at the pieces on display for the Faculty Art Exhibit.

Open to the public for the month of November, the show – housed in the WCJC Art Gallery – features original works by instructors Jess Coleman, Dianne Curtis and Alana Kocich. It’s an eclectic collection, one that reveals the artistic inclinations of each instructor. There’s watercolor, oil on canvas, studies in the human form, and collages, to name a few.

The collages, most of which depict ballerinas, are Coleman’s creation. Using scraps of different colored material, he pieces together a puzzle-like background, over which he draws and paints a central figure. The end result is mesmerizing, with the primary character seeming to emerge magically out of the background much like a camouflaged soldier stepping out of a forest.

Coleman teaches all of WCJC’s studio classes, everything from basic drawing to more advanced design, while Kocich and Curtis handle the more theoretical art courses. When he’s not showing a beginning artist how to properly hold a brush or suggesting a drawing student use bolder strokes with charcoal, Coleman practices his own craft, something he’s been doing for most of his life.

“As far back as I can remember, I was drawing and trying to copy stuff,” he said.

Though his artistic interests would initially lead him to graphic design – something he did for the Houston Chronicle for 10 years – he eventually came back around to drawing and painting, with a particular interest in the human form. That’s where he focuses his talents, attending various Art League of Houston events most weekends.

“I’m constantly practicing,” he said.

Coleman’s counterparts are no different. Kocich, who holds a Masters of Art Education from Texas Tech University, updates an online portfolio (www.alana.carbonmade.com) where she showcases her skills in watercolor, colored pencil and printmaking. Her specialty is contemporary landscapes.

Curtis was a commercial artist for 15 years before studying fine arts. She’s taught all age levels and is an experienced seller to local and national galleries, as well as online.

“I have studied and worked as an artist my entire working life, so I have a diverse background,” Curtis said.

Coleman believes it’s critical that art instructors, in particular, keep up with their skills. Not only will that translate into better tutoring in the studio, it also reveals to the students a little bit more about the abilities of the person they are learning from.

And that’s the primary point of the Faculty Art Exhibit.

“It’s to let them see we are actually productive artists and to, hopefully, inspire them to learn the skills they will need to achieve their own goals as artists,” Coleman said.

The WCJC Faculty Art Exhibit will run from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30 at the WCJC Art Gallery, which is located in the Duson-Hansen Fine Arts Building, Room 109, Wharton Campus, 911 Boling Highway. The exhibit is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with a special “Meet the Artists” event planned for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6. The collection is free of charge and open to the public.

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