Fort Hays professors show off art techniques

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art pic

Students watch intensely as Linda Ganstrom (center) demonstrates how she works with clay to create her figurative molds.

Paintbrushes fly across canvases while clay is molded by gentle hands. Within the pristine walls of the Art/Ed building, art is born. 

On Nov. 21, two art professors from Fort Hays University led art demonstrations for Doane art students interested in ceramics and painting. These professors were Linda Ganstrom, who specializes in ceramics, and Jee Hwang, who specializes in painted works. 

Doane professor Eric Stearns set up the artist demonstrations for Nov. 21, and has a close connection to Ganstrom, having been a student of hers when he was a graduate student at Fort Hays. 

“She’s basically my ceramics mom,” Stearns said. “There is a familiar kind of bond within the art community.”

This comes after Stearns and five students traveled to Fort Hays University to check out the graduate art program last month.

Ganstrom’s specialty is figurative sculptures and body molds. According to her website, Ganstrom’s sculptures “are focused on realistic figurative sculpture with a touch of magic.” 

Ganstrom said she prefers to work with ceramics because she thinks in a three dimensional way.

“What I thought of in my head is not what came out on paper when I would draw on paper,” Ganstrom said. “When I touched the clay, I can mold it to fit the image in my head.”

Senior Olivia Stinson was at the ceramics demonstration. Stinson said she learned more about adding texture and depth to her ceramic works from this event. 

“I was excited about the demonstration and found it to be helpful to see how another artist assembles their work,” Stinson said.

Stinson added that it was nice to see an artist with the same subject focus as her since it allowed her to see how the figurative sculpting process differs for everyone. This also gave Stinson a chance to learn more about art career options for after she graduates.

“I want students to find the courage to explore their own potential,” Ganstrom said. 

Junior Hannah Brust was also at the ceramics demonstration. Working with clay to create a work of art is one of Brust’s favorite things to do. 

“I love to get my hands dirty and physically change a lump of clay into art,” Brust said.

Brust said this demonstration taught her more about making corrections to her art and where her art education at Doane will lead her later on in life. 

While the ceramics demonstration happened downstairs there was a painting demonstration upstairs led by Fort Hays assistant professor Jee Hwang. Hwang was unavailable for comment, though according to her website, Hwang’s art “is focused on realistic depictions of metaphorical scenes.” Through observations of the world around her, Hwang is able to turn mundane reality into a meaningful piece of work. 

She has an attention to detail that is stunning and students will benefit from learning more about her work and techniques, Stearns said. 

Senior Katie Petersen attended the painting demonstration and critique session hosted by Hwang. 

“I was excited for this demonstration,” Petersen said. “I follow Hwang and her work on Instagram and it was cool to see how her art has changed from her college years to now.” 

At the demonstration painters did lip studies, painting lips onto canvases with attention to the detailing to make them look realistic.

From this demonstration, Petersen said she learned a new technique for a painting called Alla prima, which involves painting over the wet paint with wet paint. 

“It is a useful skill because it makes painting go faster and allows painters to build up colors on their work,” Petersen said.

Petersen also said having someone to learn from whose focus is on the same subject matter helps to visualize what her future in art could be like. 

Having art demonstrations at Doane allows students to get a new perspective on art, Stearns said. 

“For example, I don’t do body castings, so bringing in someone who does lets the students learn more about artistic techniques we don’t specialize in personally,” Stearns said.

Stearns said the department tries to do at least one artist demonstration a semester to give students a broader perspective of the art community. 

“We are like one big family. We try to help each other out as much as possible and artist demonstrations are one way we give back to one another,” Stearns said.