The work of both a seasoned artist and an emerging student designer will be seen this summer and fall on the Jacksonville State University campus. “Meeting New Challenges” is the theme for both.

How does an artist measure success? One answer may lie in an exhibit at JSU’s Hammond Hall Gallery this month, where Diana Cadwallader, JSU professor emeritus, displays her pencil works.

The exhibit reflects more than fine lines and manifold hues. It is evidence of a lifelong urge to create art and share it with others.

“Some artists consider high sales and fame as artistic success,” Cadwallader said. “I claim neither. But as long as I can satisfy my motivation to create and be the artist that I like to be, then I’m successful.”

Her show opens Wednesday and continues through Sept. 20, with a reception on Aug. 31 in the gallery, when school will be in session. The gallery will be open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

The exhibit’s title is “From Celestial Tartans to Mary’s Mantles.” It is a retrospective of her color pencil work over the last 20 years.  

“I like the color pencil work because it is a dry medium. I can make thousands of colors when I layer them,” Cadwallader said.

The artist also works with acrylics and watercolors, and her work has been shown in national and international exhibits, including over 40 juried shows.

Since she retired in 2012 from the JSU art department faculty, she has developed an active interest in fiber art and making prints. “I’ve been having a ball with new challenges,’ she said.

Before her retirement, she taught graphic design, fundamental art and art appreciation. “Graphic design is a service to people,” she said. “It makes life more understandable with good, strong communication. However, what you’ll see in this exhibit is art without a specific audience in mind.”

Her subjects are mystical, magical, mysterious and spiritual in nature, and, in part, involve experiences from her upbringing. Her father was a pilot trainer and air surveyor. Born in Reading, England, Cadwallader also lived in Pakistan, Tanzania, Kenya and the British colony of Hong Kong.

Cadwallader earned her Bachelor of Arts at Arizona State University and her Master of Fine Arts at Yale University while she was in her late 30s-early 40s, she said. “If I can do that, then there’s hope for everyone,” she said.

The artist’s largest work in the gallery centers on a primeval forest in Poland that is being threatened by loggers. “This saddens me, because once we lose these natural environments, they’re gone forever.” Therefore, she hopes visual messages like this will have an effect on viewers.

“But I’ve also done whimsical pieces such as the flying carpet series,” she said. “I’ve always been fascinated with antique rugs.”  

She invites everyone to the exhibit. “Above all, I want people to think with me, imagine with me, and enjoy the collection.”

Murals in JSU children’s reading room

Reading was never so much fun. As 100 fifth graders discovered on a recent field trip, a library visit can become an adventure if it’s in a bright, friendly space like the children’s reading room in JSU’s Houston Cole Library.

The 30-by-40-foot room on the library’s fifth floor got its start last spring with assistance from the Houston Cole Friends of the Library, donations from individuals and a grant from the Alabama State Council for the Arts.

The space now has new carpeting, new paint and a divider wall with an arched entrance.

The room will host book readings and community speakers, with a focus on children’s authors and illustrators.

A small stage built by drama department chair Randy Blades and  Nick Hoenshell, the department’s technical director, will be a platform for acting out stories.

Children and their caregivers will be welcome when the room opens Oct. 1.

A large part of the excitement has been the completion of art by Megan Wise, who graduated from JSU in April with a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Studies, with a concentration in filmmaking.

She will begin study for a master’s degree in Visual Communication at JSU this fall, for which she received a full scholarship.

“Megan was recommended to us by the university’s public relations department,” said Laurie Heathcock, education librarian and associate professor. “She had been doing some illustrations of Cocky to be used for marketing purposes. She is a very talented young lady and has spent many hours working for us this summer.”

Cocky, the Gamecocks’ lovable mascot, appears in the reading room in a very large way.

The four elements in Wise’s work are the backdrop, showing the Appalachian Mountains and clouds; Cocky piloting a plane; the tree behind the stage; and Cocky again, this time reading a signpost for literary locations, including “Wonderland,” “Camelot” and “Never-Never Land.”

“To paint the entire room, something of this caliber was a challenge for me,” Wise said. “I usually work small, and in detail. But I had studied set design and that helped. This was a good experience.”

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at herveyfolsom@yahoo.com.