A new gallery that demonstrates how the creative process unfolds has opened at the Torrington campus.
A $250,000 gift from anonymous donors – the largest gift ever to the campus – established the gallery and will help the campus provide programs and fellowships for student writers and artists. Its purpose is to enhance the campus’s collaborations with the many artists and writers in Litchfield County.
The gallery is named in honor of Robley Whitson, a writer and artist based in Washington, Conn., and will feature visual works he created over a 10-year period. The works, done in opaque ink on paper, will be shown in several iterations that demonstrate how they evolved through five or six different approaches. Whitson will give a talk at the gallery on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
“The gallery’s mission is to provide a place for teaching, reflection, discovery, and exploration of the creative process,” says Pamela Bramble, professor of art and curator of the exhibit. “We hope to give people a better understanding of the creative process.”
Whitson, who helped coordinate the gift to the Torrington campus, is, in addition to being a writer and artist, an ordained minister, scholar, sculptor, former dean of the faculty of the Graduate Theological Foundation in South Bend, Ind., and former chair of the Fordham University Department of Theology.
The gallery includes space for changing exhibits, including two exhibits a year of student work; storage for materials; and a 28-seat classroom.
“The impact of having classes in the gallery space and the visual impact of the shows that will be there will provide something hard or impossible to measure but will be very civilizing in the best sense of the word,” Whitson says.
He says he believes the gallery will get the outside community involved with the University community and will help get people in touch with their aesthetic potential.
“Northwestern Connecticut is filled with famous and yet-to-be-famous artists and writers and creative people,” he said. “We would like to get them involved.”
Davyne Verstandig, director of the Litchfield Country Writers Project, has been in a writing group with Whitson and has known him for 25 years.
“It is an honor to know him and his kindness, intelligence, and his heart,” she says. “He has always seen the importance of ways of seeing and he says that ‘we seek to become aware not primarily of what but of how the artist sees and thus we are stimulated to see in our own ways. That way, we really see, not just look.’”
The anonymous gift allowed for a room in the M. Adela Eads Classroom Building to be renovated into a dual-purpose teaching and gallery area. It also supports fellowships for students, and sponsors writers’ and artists’ events.
“Not only are we extremely grateful for the gift, but also for the opportunity to work with Robley on this project that will focus on the creative process as an integral part of the Torrington campus mission,” says Michael Menard, director of the Torrington campus.