By Trisha Stachowski
Through Nov. 14, Saint Mary’s University’s Lillian Davis Hogan Galleries is featuring “Drawings by Whelan” and “Pottery by Schwarz.”
John Whelan, adjunct professor of art and design department, has been involved with art since a very young age and is primarily interested in the figure. “When I went to art school, I was trained primarily in the figure work, which you can see goes back a long way,” Whelan said.
Whelan then began taking an interest in flowers, with a special emphasis on those that have begun to whither. According to Whelan, withering flowers begin to take poses, much as if they are dancing or twisting.
Whelan shares his knowledge of art through teaching art history classes at SMU, in addition to some of the drawing classes. “I feel any chance I get to teach drawing, I love, but I also enjoy teaching art history,” said Whelan.
Whelan’s artwork has been displayed in various other galleries, most recently at The Pump House Regional Arts Center in La Crosse, Wis. However, he said that his artwork is mostly shown at the schools where he has taught. “It’s very nice and it means a lot to me for the students to be able to see [the artwork],” said Whelan.
Whelan is quick to point out that his drawings are very much complimented by the pottery provided by Schwarz. According to Whelan, he and Schwarz have been friends for 35 years, and even taught at Luther College together. “[Dean and I] have been very good friends, so just like two friends doing anything together, I hope they compliment each other,” said Whelan.
“I think it’s safe to say that, in art, if you want to make a career out of it you have to be willing to find avenues and make them for yourself,” Whelan said. Whelan also said that those who are passionate about art need to pursue it regardless of whether it leads to fame or money.
Whelan also encourages others to take joy in using simple materials to create artwork. Said Whelan, “There’s a great deal of joy just to be taken in drawing on a piece of paper or making things out of mud. Little children don’t need any push to want to draw with crayons or to make mud-pies.”