Workshop provides an education in art

The Creative Arts Workshop (CAW) Faculty Show 2003 isn’t your average art exhibit. Along with a few traditional pieces, it features artwork in media ranging from collage, beeswax, paint and horsehair to cypress root, rattan, cane, glass beads and clay.

Located on Audubon Street, the Workshop offers a broad range of classes for students and adults alike, in addition to providing access to professional-quality studios and equipment. Exhibits like the Faculty Show, which opens tonight at 5 p.m. in CAW’s Hilles Gallery, complement the school’s academic program by displaying the artistic abilities of its teachers, Gallery Director Diane Svigals said.

“We want to highlight the work of the faculty because we respect them as artists in their own right in addition to being teachers here,” Svigals said. “We also try to use the show for prospective students, so they can meet the faculty and be inspired by their work.”

Several hundred people are expected to come to the opening, which will feature a demo in the Workshop’s pottery studio, said Rusti Icenogle, the Gallery’s public relations and development director.

“We’ve got everything in there, from craft types of textile items to very esoteric pieces of work,” said Barbara Harder, the head of the Gallery’s printmaking department. “When you have a curator, you have a one-line vision, and instead this is putting on display a whole range of artistic styles.”

The exhibit, which runs until Oct. 17, is free to the public, and most of the pieces on display are available for sale. A percentage of the profits goes to the Workshop to fund scholarships and other needs.

The Faculty Show is CAW’s contribution to New Haven’s monthlong Start with the Arts program, which is designed to bring attention to the downtown arts scene. Such events have contributed to New Haven’s recent development as a regional arts center, Svigals said.

“Five years ago, the arts were buried under sports and entertainment in economic importance in New Haven,” Svigals said. “Then they formed an arts industry coalition, and now art is the reason people are coming downtown. The focus on the arts has made a huge difference in the city.”

Nonetheless, Svigals said there remains room for improvement.

“We’d like to have more coordinated gallery openings and events where we’re building the arts collectively,” Svigals said. “We’re also trying to get retailers to stay open with us, so we can improve the intersection between the arts and business and make New Haven a walking city.”

For Yalies, the exhibit is one reason to take the short walk to Audubon Street and see for themselves what the New Haven art scene has to offer, Icenogle said.

“Sometimes when you’re at a university, you get so focused on the on-campus life that every once in a while it’s nice to step back and take a look at the greater community,” Icenogle said. “There’s so much going on in New Haven, and this is really a wonderful way for Yale students to get a connection to the community.”

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