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Art profs strut their stuff


by: COURTESY PHOTO - Pacific University sculpture and design professor Junko Iijima uses the discarded plastic casings of objects in her art.Six of Pacific University’s most creative minds will display their artwork in a diverse selection of ideas and mediums from now until Oct. 26 at the Kathrin Cawein Gallery of Art.

Art professors exhibiting their work include sculptor and “small object” maker Junko Iijima, photographer Jim Flory, printmaker Patricia Cheyne, painter and pencilist Doug Anderson, glass artist Steve O’Day and filling in for ceramicist Terry O’Day while she spends the semester on sabbatical is ceramicist Careen Stoll.

Pointing to the void

Junko Iijima is a Japanese studio artist and object maker living in North Portland. She is also a metalsmith, sculpture and design professor at Pacific University.

Iijima arrived in the United States as a high school exchange student. Fascinated by the diversity of people and culture, she stayed to earn her masters degree in Metalsmithing at University of Oregon.

Now a resident of 21 years, Ijima’s work derives from the melding of American and Japanese culture. She says the two cultures are getting closer and closer as each set of peoples exchange commodities.

As an object maker, Iijima explores the cultural and social identities of both the decorative and functional object. Her investigation always starts with a simple curiosity, usually based on her taste of pop culture.

Recently, Iijima is curious about the way products are vacuum-sealed in bubbly, formed plastic that protect its contents before the product is sold and carried around. “I am fascinated by the plastic packaging as a unique object, both as a container and skin,” she said in her artist statement.

“Once a product has been removed, what’s left is the translucent memory of what was once there,” she said.

Iijima wants to make these voids — often unidentifiable and strange traces of an object no longer present — visible.

Her pieces use plastic packages donated to her by friends, leaving her with no clue as to what was originally in the packages. Iijima’s final statement: Most plastics used for this type of packaging are not recyclable. They are pure byproduct of mass production, our consumption.

Captured images

Pacific photography professor Jim Flory was into biology and filmmaking in college, but everything changed when his brother gave him his first Nikon camera one Christmas.

Enamored with the camera’s ability to “freeze” moving images, Flory began shooting pictures of his two sons playing high school sports.

Soon enough, he was a sports photography “junkie.” Coaches allowed him to follow teams on the field, join them in the locker room and ride the bus to away games, where Flory built a portfolio and earned his right to take photos at a variety of other sporting events.

With twenty years teaching experience behind the lens, Flory sets an example for his students as an active, professional photographer. Three years ago Flory landed himself a press pass to photograph the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field in Eugene. He returned the following year to capture runners in the U.S. Track and Field Championship for an experience that “was beyond words.”

“The best thing about teaching photography is getting students excited about expressing themselves with a tool as powerful as the camera and the images that come from it,” said Flory.

Color on the page

In her various colored and textured collographs, professor of printmaking Patricia Cheyne puts her interest in ancient world cultures, particularly life-affirming and nature-centered symbology, into a postmodern context. While her primary medium is printmaking, Cheyne also uses other media: drawing, sculpture and installation pieces.

The print, book and papermaker is influenced by her immediate visual experiences such as the forests and valleys in the Pacific Northwest as well as subjective states of mind, like cuts and scars of emotional life. “My art is a mix of landcapes, soulscapes and mythscapes,” Cheyne’s artist statement reads.

She is interested in the rough edges of a subject, in its physicality and texture. Her work more expressive than realistic, she tries to appeal to the viewer physically, spiritually and conceptually.

Educated in Connecticut and Colorado, Cheyne has been connecting students one by one to a personal enchantment with the visible world in Pacific University art rooms since 1994. She believes that creativity is one of the most valuable faculties humans process.

“The ability to translate private and cultural perceptions and desires into form, color, image and texture,” said Cheyne, “Is one that needs to be developed, cherished and rewarded.”