Last fall, Cleveland State University began a yearlong celebration of its 50th anniversary. The festivities have been frequent and diverse, and as students return from winter break, CSU's Art Department is getting in on the game, celebrating its past with two new exhibitions at the Galleries at Cleveland State.
Mind Creatures: The Amazing World of Marvin Jones and Place & Vision: The Artistic Legacy of Masumi Hayashi explore the lives and works of two deceased professors, both of whom had prolific careers while making profound impacts on their students and community. The shows open with a reception on Thursday, Jan. 15, from 5 to 8 p.m.
"The shows were specifically tied to the 50th anniversary as a look back on two very strong and popular artist-teachers here in the art department," explains CSU gallery director Robert Thurmer. "The shows feature the works of the only two studio art faculty members who have passed away since the inception of the department in 1973. The exhibitions celebrate the lives of these faculty members who have contributed so much to the success of the department. Both have huge followings and their former students number in the thousands — including many who are successful artists in their own right."
Marvin Jones came to CSU in 1976, where he served as professor of printmaking for nearly three decades. Jones' work was featured in more than 550 group exhibitions around the world during his life, as well as over 75 solo shows in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan and Korea. A multi-disciplined artist, Jones also worked in painting, drawing, jewelry and sculpture.
"Marvin loved his CSU students. He often said that our best students were as good as the best students anywhere," says friend and CSU professor of drawing George Mauersberger. "He was intolerant of pretension, especially when it came to art and art criticism. He described his approach to drawing by saying simply, 'Drawing is thinking.'" One of Jones' most accomplished former students, Russ Revock, took over CSU's printmaking program after Jones. For this exhibition, Revock has selected a mix of Jones' two- and three-dimensional work. "A distinct essence of independence — for good or bad — flows through Marvin's work," says Revock.
Masumi Hayashi began teaching at CSU in 1982. She was professor of photography until her unfortunate, sudden death in August 2006 at the age of 60. Hayashi was born in 1945 at the Gila River internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. The experience had a deep, lasting influence on her life and career. She traversed the world, photographing specific sites in an effort to raise awareness of social and environmental issues.
"Masumi traveled great distances to disturb the silence of places where difficult truths were waiting to be heard," says friend and colleague Michael Gentile. "She pursued her vision to see for us and to speak to us. Her unique creative focus illuminates the eloquence of our surroundings while exposing frailties that make us human."
"In her work and in her life, Masumi Hayashi was committed to social justice," adds Mauersberger. "Since she was born in an internment camp, she was dedicated to educating people about prejudice. She did this with her art, going back to photograph the sites of the internment camps and other unusual venues. Her work was recognized as significant in part because of the awful beauty that she found in places that most people would rather not look at. Masumi believed in the transformative power of art, to change people and to even change neighborhoods. Like Marvin, she loved her students and developed lasting relationships with many of them."
Hayashi's panoramic photo collages were created using dozens of individual photographs. She employed a standard film camera to photograph each section individually, later piecing together the photos like a puzzle to create a 360-degree view of the subject. Through this process, the final works become windows into her perspective. For this exhibition, Michael Gentile has curated a selection of Hayashi's work focused on sites throughout Northeast Ohio.
"Masumi felt Cleveland was as deserving a subject as the far away temples she photographed," says Gentile. "She investigated Cleveland's public spaces in her works such as Yugoslavian Gardens, Edgewater Park, and Public Square. Although she traveled extensively, when she returned home she intensely observed the city and she drew on its diverse visual imagery. She photographed the remnants of Cleveland's industrial past in 'Flats in the Fog,' 'Powerhouse #7' and 'Salt Mines I & II,' as well as new civic works in Jacob's Field and the West 25th Street Station. By examining every day infrastructure, she illuminated the city's history as well as hinted at its future."
"Masumi was a fun person," adds Mauersberger. "She loved to laugh. Back in the days when the Bradley Building down on West Sixth was mostly artist studios and living spaces, my colleague Ken Nevadomi remembered that Masumi used to enjoy skateboarding up and down the hallways. She liked being around people and throwing dinner parties and was present at seemingly every art opening around town up until her death. Our memories of Marvin and Masumi will always be a part of the fabric of the art department and of our identity. We miss them both very much."
Additionally, CSU's Center Gallery will feature works by E.D. Taylor. The gallery will host an artist talk with Taylor on Thursday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m.