Opening Coe College exhibits feature alumni art

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or

2008-09-03 07:58:27 - General

The first art show of the 2008-2009 season at Coe College features an exhibition series highlighting the creative achievements of the college's art department alumni. The featured artists include Christine Buckton Tillman '99 (sculpture), Fujiko Isomura '95 (paintings), Julia Kottal '03 (landscape paintings), and Kirk Mayhew '95 (ceramics).

The exhibits open in conjunction with a reception in the Sinclair Auditorium lobby on Friday, Sept. 12, from 5-7 p.m. The artwork will continue to be on display from Sept. 13 through Oct. 3 from 3-5 p.m. daily in the Marvin Cone and Eaton-Buchan Galleries of Sinclair on the Coe campus. In addition, a special Homecoming Weekend reception will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, from 5-7 p.m. Both the receptions and the exhibitions are free and open to the public.

According to gallery director and instructor of art Mariah Dekkenga, the alumni exhibits will allow Coe to showcase the talent of its own graduates. The college had its first special alumni exhibit last year, with more planned for the future.

"Each year, we plan to show the work of small groups of our alumni who are working as practicing artists," said Dekkenga. "We hope that the series will serve to inspire current students while highlighting the successes of our alumni."

Details of the exhibits are as follows:

Christine Buckton Tillman sculpture exhibit
Christine Buckton Tillman graduated from Coe in 1999. She then earned her Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees in painting and drawing from the University of Iowa in 2002, and moved to Baltimore. Recently, Tillman has exhibited her sculpture at Transformer Gallery and The Katzen Museum in Washington, D.C., the Urban Institute for Art in Grand Rapids, Mich., the Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston, S.C., and Area 405 in Baltimore. She is a two-time finalist for the prestigious Trawick Prize for Contemporary Art. Her work has recently been featured in Urban Code and Locus Magazine Issue #3. She is a member of the Upper School faculty at the Park School of Baltimore.

"I am primarily a very flat sculptor who draws more often than I make sculptures," said Buckton Tillman. "My main interests as an artist lie in ideas surrounding the handmade, celebrations, and man-made interpretations of natural forms."

Fujiko Isomura painting exhibit
A native of Tokyo, Fujiko Isomura graduated from Coe College in 1995 and went on to earn an M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998. She has been commissioned to paint a wide variety of works, and currently serves as the membership director at the La Jolla Art Association in La Jolla, Calif. She resides in San Diego.

Isomura's work has been featured at dozens of juried shows in both the U.S. and Japan, with work on display at major museums. She has also been recognized with top finishes at art competitions around the country.

The artist begins her work with computer manipulation, collaging, and the printing of images. She then returns to the formal art techniques of painting and metal leaf gilding to complete her work, bringing together old and new icons and mass media images from American and Japanese culture.

"In the middle of rapid globalization, I would like to share my passion, experiences, and vision of living in diverse cultures through my artwork, to make the world more aware of what we are, the time we live in, and harmony each of us can create and enjoy together," noted Isomura in her artist's statement.

Julia Kottal landscape painting exhibit
Julia Kottal is a 2003 Coe alum who graduated with a major in art and a concentration in oil painting. She was awarded the Susan Lawson Bauma Prize in Art at Coe and has been a featured artist at Campbell Steele Galleries in Marion. Kottal is an artist and educator at the Eastside Arts Academy in Cedar Rapids.

Kottal grew up in rural areas of the Midwest, where the inspiration came for her work. She remembers "being hypnotized by patterns of corn and soybeans fields whirling by, and finding hidden objects in the clouds and vistas - these are images etched in my brain that continuously return to me."

"Viewing and painting a land 'sweep' or landscape, I express myself through personal reflection," noted Kottal. "Memories of the past infuse my current vision and I willingly allow the two to combine - past and present mental visions, a blended perspective into my voice. This is how and why I paint landscapes that have elements of times past, but in abstraction. I love to see, as I hope the view does, a 'surprise' or a moment that happens in my paintings, either while painting or after completion."

Kirk Mayhew ceramics exhibit
Kirk Mayhew received his bachelor's degree from Coe in 1997, and his M.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati in 2000. Mayhew's solo exhibitions and collaborative works can be seen in the greater Cincinnati area, as well as Charlotte, N.C., Muncie, Ind., Liberty Park, N.J., and Nancy, France. Currently, Mayhew serves as an adjunct professor teaching ceramics at Northern Kentucky University, community education classes at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and pottery at the Clifton Recreation Center.

Regarding his ceramics exhibit, Mayhew noted, "To enhance the level of interactivity, as well as satisfy my own curiosity, the structures have been created by different methods. When a sharp and smooth form was desired, wet solid construction was allowed to stiffen, hollowed out, then massively resurfaced while still moist. Planes and corners were refined again and again. This is a universe apart from the complexity of flattened slabs cut into precise bricks that were dried and unapologetically assembled with mortar-like clay slip. Through either process a greatly differing physicality becomes quickly apparent, further engaging the viewer to consider and compare these recognizable vessels."

For more information on the exhibit, call 399-8581.