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Art Educators as Artists at the Riffe Gallery


The Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) Riffe Gallery is currently exhibiting Art Educators as Artists, a juried exhibition showcasing art educators as artists on view until Jan. 5. The 68 works were made by 46 members of the Ohio Art Education Association divisions of Elementary, Middle, Secondary, Higher Education, Museum, Supervision Policy and Administration, and Emeritus. Media of exhibiting artwork includes painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, photography, and more.

The works in the show offer a myriad of expressions, storytelling, advocacy, and reflection. One artist-educator, Irene Maginniss, shows a piece titled Mistico Bridge (2018). Her glass collage is inspired by a trip to Costa Rica, where she encountered areas of lush greenery and colorful foliage. The shades in her fused-glass piece blend together earthy tones and bright oranges. “Working with various kinds of fusible sheet glass and a variety of components made in advance, I cut, arrange, and layer the various shapes and colors onto a background sheet of clear glass using sometimes untraditional ways with cutting and arranging to get the special effects I visualize… [It] has much to do with layers as well as my own memories and energies from times hiking, exploring, and imagining,” said Maginniss about her work. 

Maginniss recently led a drop-in workshop at the OAC Riffe Gallery for those new to and experienced with glass. Participants were given a selection of supplies and a variety of glass from which to choose. Each person created their own colorful, textured collage. The workshop was a fantastic, hands-on learning experience enjoyed by all in attendance. 

Another artist, Sarah Curry, features two large, vibrant paintings in the exhibition. These works embody “diversity, creativity, and love” and are portraits of couples in her community of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Her paintings are personal and reflective. And We Toast (2017) is a self-portrait of Curry and her husband, David King, another artist showing in Art Educators as Artists. This piece depicts Curry holding a wine glass, toasting the viewer as she sits with paintbrush in hand, ready to create. An orange tabby cat bites one of Curry’s brushes, and King is in the background, petting the cat and inquisitively glancing at the viewer. Curry and King are in a room full of mismatched posters and trinkets hanging from the walls. With a pair of shoes strewn across the floor and her painting incomplete, Curry’s self-portrait seems to toast both her honest artmaking process and the viewer. Through this piece, Curry expresses the vulnerability of creating art with a warm welcome into her personal space. Her other featured work, Farming Out Music (2017), depicts two neighbors posed like Grant Wood’s American Gothic (1930). In Curry’s piece, rather than the man holding a pitchfork, the woman is holding a classical bass and her husband is next to her with hands in his pockets. They stand outside their suburban home in Curry’s hometown. This piece reminds viewers to find the art in their everyday lives and experience the beauty in relationships.

Yet another artist, Cherie K. Bauer, exhibits a piece titled Breathless Wait (2015). This painting depicts her late husband, a victim of ALS. He is shown lying face-up with text written across his body inspired by scripts he wrote to Bauer when he was unable to verbally speak due to the progression of the disease. On his side is written, “My mouth was so dry I couldn’t sleep. In past would roll over to get it wet but can’t roll over now.” Across his chest, in capital letters, reads, “DO NOT RESUSCITATE,” a chilling message about the severity of ALS and the effect it has on the victim’s body. Bauer uses her work to bring awareness to the ugliness of this disease, its effect on victims, and the heaviness it weighs on caregivers. The painting’s black background leaves an ominous question for the viewer: What lies ahead?

Lastly, Jessie Barbarich features a piece titled Jellyfish (2018). This photograph shows a detailed orange jellyfish floating in dark waters. When seeing the piece, the viewer may wonder how Barbarich was able to not only get so close to such a creature but photograph it as well. She explains that the image was taken with her iPhone at the Akron Zoo. Barbarich, a mother, wife, educator, choreographer, and more, sees the necessity of finding the beauty in everyday life when her schedule does not permit it. While she may not have the time to photograph jellyfish in coastal, tropical waters, she intentionally chooses to make art where and when she can, even at the zoo! Barbarich reminds viewers to pause and appreciate the highlights in life’s daily moments.

If interested in experiencing any of the artworks featured in Art Educators as Artists, stop by the OAC Riffe Gallery at 77 S. High St. in downtown Columbus, Ohio. The gallery is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., except for state holidays. The gallery is also offering free workshops for anyone to attend during the run of the exhibition!

The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio's artists and the collections of the state's museums and galleries. The Riffe Gallery is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, across from the Statehouse on High Street in Downtown Columbus. Like the Riffe Gallery on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Alexa Demyan, 2018-19 OAC Riffe Gallery Marketing and Exhibitions Fellow
Featured image courtesy of Sarah Curry

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