ALMA — After a period of layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gratiot County’s only professional art gallery is back to hosting its usual slate of professional and student artists for the 2023-24 academic year.
The Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery, located in the Clack Art Center on Alma College’s campus, will host six exhibitions and one special event, all with closing receptions that will include opportunities for interaction with the artist whose work is being displayed. All exhibitions and receptions are free to attend.
“We’re thrilled to open the Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery again to our campus, community and visiting artists,” said Alex Zablocki, visiting assistant professor of ceramics and sculpture and coordinator of the Beck Gallery. “For our students, staff and faculty, we hope our diverse schedule of exhibitions this year will allow for a certain level of reflection and contemplation in an artistic setting. Studies have shown that viewing art can improve an individual’s level of focus and overall health and wellness, and we hope to provide that for our campus community.
“For the community and visiting artists, we hope to provide an artistic foothold into Alma College and Gratiot County on a whole. The gallery is unique for this area and we’re proud to have this space open again. I hope to see many others join us, so they can feel pride in it, too.”
Among the highlights of the year, Zablocki said, is John Chang, who is from Los Angeles and is exhibiting from Oct. 2-Nov. 2. Chang, who was born in Shanghai, is a painter with influences derived from Chinese pictographic writing, which seeks to turn writing into painting and reflect the “alienation” he feels living between the United States and China.
“John Chang’s work helps us understand the feelings that one might have following a move halfway across the world, while also giving us a sense of reflection in our own lives, whenever we have feelings of alienation and doubt,” Zablocki said. “His style is unforgettable. I think everyone who attends will be able to gain something very valuable from the experience.”
Another highlight is Jo-Ann Morgan, who is professor emeritus of African American studies and art history at Western Illinois University, and is exhibiting from Nov. 6 to Dec. 7. Since 2020, Morgan has been a full-time fiber artist, creating stitched fabric wall hangings on themes related to social justice and gun violence.
“Jo-Ann Morgan’s work offers a thoughtful take on one of the key social issues of our time. To juxtapose these troubling topics with her incredibly made, pictorial quilts, which evoke a sense of calm and comfort, is simply fascinating. I’m excited to see how our patrons respond to her work,” Zablocki said.
Bookending the professional artists’ works are the annual student exhibition, which is set for Sept. 4-28, and the senior exhibition, which is scheduled for March 18 through April 18. The gallery will also host a special event for Halloween on Oct. 27.
“It’s important to bring professional artists into this space and provide a home for Gratiot County, but it’s always exciting to show off the best of our best students’ work in the gallery space as well,” Zablocki said. “The students are what brings the Clack Art Center to life and we’re excited to showcase their work.”
The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed for college breaks and holidays. For more information, visit alma.edu.
Closing reception: 4:30 p.m. Sept. 28
Oct. 2-Nov. 2
Closing reception: 4:30 p.m. Oct. 2
Clack Halloween Extravaganza
4-6 p.m. Oct. 27
Nov. 6-Dec. 7
Closing reception: 4:30 p.m. Dec. 7
Christina Kerns and Hanna Duggan
Jan. 8-Feb. 8
Closing reception: 4:30 p.m. Feb. 8
Feb. 12-March 14
Closing reception: 4:30 p.m. March 14
March 18-April 18