Campus and community invited to celebrate 'Shared Perspectives' art exhibit

MONT ALTO, Pa. — For her final exhibit as a faculty member at Penn State Mont Alto, Freya Qually, associate teaching professor of art, is sharing space and vision with some of her colleagues.

Bryan Farm, painting by Freya Qually

"Bryan Farm," a painting by Freya Qually.

Credit: Freya Qually

“Shared Perspectives” opened in late January on the second floor of the library at Penn State Mont Alto. It consists mostly of photographs, but there also are watercolor and oil paintings, plus raku pottery, on exhibit, all created by six members of the staff and faculty, plus the executive director of the Nicodemus Center for Ceramic Studies.

An artists’ reception was held on Feb. 28 on the second floor of the library on the campus, at 1 Campus Drive in Mont Alto. The gathering also served as a retirement party for Qually, who marked the end of her 30-year career at Penn State Mont Alto on March 1.

Qually founded the art department at the Mont Alto campus. “I’ve been the department,” she said with a laugh.

Starting as an adjunct professor, Qually had no designated classroom, so she toted her supplies around campus, with storage space in some dilapidated buildings and in basements. Now, she has ample space for her students and supplies, plus windows through which light can shine.

“It was an evolution over time,” said Qually.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and a master of fine arts from American University in Washington, D.C. She has exhibited her art for 45 years, primarily in the mid-Atlantic states, but also in Chicago; Springfield, Missouri; Berkeley, California; Corvallis, Oregon; and in England and Spain. Qually has taught privately and done portrait commissions for institutional and private clients. She said she prefers painting with oils, but has also worked with pastels and is branching into photography.

Qually said she is ready for retirement, but will miss the camaraderie at Penn State Mont Alto.

“It’s the community here that’s so fabulous,” she said of the staff and students.

She is planning an active retirement, where she said she will continue to make music in three Appalachian string bands — she plays guitar primarily, but also dabbles on banjo and mandolin — plus paint, travel, work in her garden, and read.

The exhibit’s title, “Shared Perspectives,” was coined by Staci Grimes to illustrate that there are several exhibitors who have a common vision.

“I instigated it and made it happen,” Qually said of the show, adding that she wanted one more chance to turn three library walls, measuring 12 feet each, into a canvas for the works by the faculty and staff.

Qually wants those who stop to admire the pieces and attend the artists’ reception to “just appreciate the talent — maybe hidden talent — of our faculty and staff. It broadens your view of what we have here on campus. They’re multidimensional.”

Among those versatile colleagues is Grimes, campus web manager, whose photographs are among the items on display.

"It's a big, beautiful world, and capturing notable moments in different landscapes is ever so much more meaningful when those moments can be shared," said Grimes, who has displayed her works solo and in collaborative exhibits throughout the Cumberland Valley over the past decade.

Kim Herrmann is an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Penn State Mont Alto, but not all of her time is spent focusing on the heavens.

“I've had many opportunities to attend international conferences and collect data at remote observatories, so I enjoy amateur photography to capture some of the amazing places I've seen,” Herrmann said.

In “Shared Perspectives,” some of those sites are captured in her photographs, including one from a recent international conference in Sesto, a town in the Italian Alps. Others are from various locations in Arizona, the diverse beauty of which captivated her while living there for four years.

Faculty members Kristi Addleman Ritter, Renee Borromeo and Ron George are making their debuts as exhibiting artists. Borromeo is program coordinator for the physical therapist assistant program at Penn State Mont Alto and George is a lecturer in English.

Ritter, reference and instruction librarian at Penn State Mont Alto, is showing eight digital photographs.

“I love traveling, so most of the photos are from different locations I have visited, and I almost always look to landscapes,” Ritter said. “I always try to look for an interesting perspective for my photos, and I tend to play with fore/backgrounds. I have zero artistic experience, aside from hobby photography.”

The exhibit includes her pictures of a stained-glass window at a cathedral in Spain, a water lily at The Arboretum at Penn State and a desert road leading to Monument Valley in Arizona.

Not new to exhibiting is Mary Ashe-Mahr, executive director of the Nicodemus Center for Ceramic Studies. The library show includes some of her recent raku creations. Raku involves removing pottery from a kiln while at high heat and placing it in containers with combustible materials. Once the materials ignite, the containers are closed, which affects the colors in glazes and clay bodies and leads to deliberate cracking.

“Shared Perspectives” can be viewed through April 3 during library hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.