News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 25, 2011

Rose fall exhibit showcases textile art, landscape paintings


Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Hoosier artists Julie Sermersheim and Jerry Smith are featured in the fall exhibition that cover the renovated hallways of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Moench Hall. The main campus classroom building hosts large exhibits each fall and spring to showcase Wabash Valley and Indiana artists.

Sermersheim, a textile artist from Santa Claus, is displaying a number of her vibrant, colorful pieces throughout the second-floor display area. She explores combinations of fabric, coloring techniques and embellishment with her art, which is inspired by nature, architecture and viewing fine art.

She also pays close attention to the skills of contemporary artists from the 1940s to the 1960s.

“She’s working with all kinds of fabrics, all kinds of methods, such as embroidery and dyeing,” says Steve Letsinger, Rose-Hulman’s art curator and coordinator of art programs. “She’s very fluid with ideas. I saw her work and immediately knew I wanted to show it for the campus and local communities.”

Meanwhile, Smith is a painter known for his lively, impressionistic plein-air paintings of picturesque rural landscapes, city scenes and seacoasts.

The Crawfordville artist has selected more than 50 paintings to show at Rose-Hulman, encompassing a range of locations and seasonal changes, and celebrating the painter’s love of light, color and place.

Smith’s work is often inspired by his travels.

“As far as I am concerned, traveling and painting go hand-in-hand,” Smith explains. Over the years, he has captured on canvas the essence of many of the trips enjoyed with his wife, Cindy. “Our vacation/painting trips have taken us to the Dingle Peninsula of Ireland, England and Wales, the Umbrian hill towns of Italy and to both coasts from Florida to Canada and California to Alaska. Many of the paintings in this exhibit were inspired by these trips.”

Letsinger notes that two of Smith’s works are part of Rose-Hulman’s permanent art collection. Interestingly, Smith has another connection to the college: his grandson, Nathan Smith, is a current student and helps Letsinger set up art displays.

The curator recognizes that many people may not think of Rose-Hulman as a place to learn about art.

However, the college offers an art minor and values art as a vital component to forming a well-rounded educational experience.

“It’s really important that we have a range of things here so that students get a better cultural understanding,” Letsinger says of Rose-Hulman’s extensive art collection, which includes British watercolors, over 600 paintings by former Wabash Valley artist D. Omer “Salty” Seamon, popular pottery by Mary Alice Hadley, numerous oil and acrylic works and sculptures.

The Moench Hall hallways have been re-designed specifically to feature artwork.

“We’re trying to implement creativity and make it possible for young people to look at things in a different way. Art shows us that there’s not just one way to do a thing,” says Letsinger.

Rose-Hulman’s fall art exhibition is available for public viewing on the first and second floors of Moench Hall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays through Dec. 14.

For guided tours of the exhibit or other campus artworks, contact Letsinger at (812) 877-8452 or letsinge@rose-hulman.edu.