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‘Journey and Transformation’ shares work of two art faculty

“Journey and Transformation: The Careers of David Stabley & Keith Vanderlin” is on display in the lobby of The Gallery at Penn College through May 6.

An artists’ reception is set for 4:30 to 6 p.m. (with a gallery talk at 5 p.m.) on Thursday, March 24, in the gallery lobby on the third floor of The Madigan Library at Pennsylvania College of Technology. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.

The two talented and respected artists and Penn College educators are sharing examples of their work as a parting glimpse prior to their retirements at the end of the 2021-22 academic year. Stabley, instructor of ceramics and wood sculpture, joined the faculty as an adjunct educator starting in the Spring 2009 semester and moved to full-time faculty in Fall 2011. Vanderlin, assistant professor of graphic design, has been a full-time faculty member since Fall 1989.

An untitled work by Stabley: large vessel form, coil constructed, soda fired stoneware; decorated with flashing slips, stains, underglazes and glazes, 20 inches by 13 inches by 8 inches.
An untitled work by Stabley: large vessel form, coil constructed, soda fired stoneware; decorated with flashing slips, stains, underglazes and glazes, 20 inches by 13 inches by 8 inches.

Stabley’s work includes ceramics, carved wood masks and sculpture. His clay work varies from hand-built vessels to traditional thrown forms, and he has been experimenting with soda firing using a combination of flashing slips, stains and glazes. The artist combines drawings of faces with overlapping abstract shapes, color, textures and patterns that surround and take over the form. His wood works have been a product of teaching wood sculpture at Penn College. His carved masks are inspired by African art and include mixed media additions.

“My artwork reflects my attempt to understand our connections, as human beings, to the many worlds we occupy,” Stabley cited. “When we dream, fantasize, consider our place in the ever-expanding universe or merely interact with our immediate physical world, we are doing so at many different levels. There is a blurring of distinction of what is, what was and what shall be.

Our thoughts, feelings and interactions are actually composed of many layers and fragments, stories within stories. My overlapping images, shapes, colors and textures portray these worlds within worlds.

“I invite you in to explore and experience them, adding another layer of connectedness to what already is.”

Vanderlin's "Color Blend Series #3," digital photo, 25 inches by 15 inches.
Vanderlin’s “Color Blend Series #3,” digital photo, 25 inches by 15 inches.

Vanderlin’s works are comprised of color photographs and wood sculptures. His appreciation for the shapes and forms of nature are a common theme in his work. In making the photographs, he works with both incident and reflected light sources using long camera exposures. He edits the images in Photoshop, often blending together more than one digital file to complete an image. Much of the wood used for his sculptures comes from the trees on his property, using colorful hardwoods: black walnut, black cherry and chestnut. He works with both the constructive and subtractive processes when making his sculptures, and his inspiration comes from objects found in nature, which are used as a point of departure for the work. His art-making process for both the photographs and the wood sculptures is informed by the basic principles of art, design and science.

“The word ‘photography’ means to draw with light,” Vanderlin said. “In my photographic work, I am interested in color properties and the behaviors of light, especially when it interacts with light-sensitive materials to create images that have both mystery and beauty. The sculptures are an experiment in removing wood to create biomorphic shapes and forms.”

Stabley received a Bachelor of Arts in studio art from Millersville University, and his Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art and Master of Fine Arts in ceramics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He and his wife, Deborah, an adjunct art faculty member at Penn College, made their living for over 30 years selling their ceramic work to galleries across the country. He has designed and produced many mosaic murals on Penn College’s campus, as well as in the community. Most recently, he was commissioned to create a large-scale triptych for the new Penn State Hampden Medical Center in Cumberland County.

Vanderlin earned a B.A. in biology from Gettysburg College, an M.Ed. in science education from Temple University, and his M.F.A. in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has been teaching for 50 years, with more than 30 years at Penn College. He co-developed the wood sculpture class at Penn College with Brian A. Flynn, assistant professor of graphic design and department head of art and design, when they both started making wood sculptures.

Vanderlin and his wife, Nancy, reside in an old farmhouse they have renovated, and their property serves as an inspiration for their artwork and family life.

The Gallery at Penn College is exhibiting “Golden Legacy: Original Art from 75 Years of Golden Books,” through March 30 in the main gallery and will next display the final projects of seniors: “Architecture & Sustainable Design: Senior Capstone Projects” runs April 8-15, and “Graphic Design 2022: Senior Portfolio Exhibition” is set for April 26 through May 6.

As with the Stabley and Vanderlin exhibit in the gallery lobby, admission to the gallery exhibits is free and open to the public.

Dedicated to promoting art appreciation through exhibitions of contemporary art, The Gallery at Penn College serves as an educational resource for college students and a cultural asset to the community.

The gallery is open 2 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. (The gallery is closed on Saturdays.) Prior to visiting, guests should view the college’s Continuity of Operations Plan page for current guidelines related to the pandemic.

For more about The Gallery at Penn College, email or call 570-320-2445.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free at 800-367-9222.

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