St. Luke’s art gallery is currently displaying the work of three retired St. Luke’s art teachers. The exhibition, titled Three Greats: Works by Susan Hill Cole, Nancy Carter Sarno, and Peggy Van Acker, will remain on display through late April. Upper School Art Teacher Jeorge Yankura shares more details about the exhibition.
This diverse collection of works was created through various mediums and practices: oil and encaustic painting, lithograph and monotype printing, sculpture, and textile designs rendered in gouache.
Peggy Van Acker’s paintings were created en plein air, or on-site in nature, as painting near water brings her great joy. There is a sense of calm and beauty in her works, and the longer one engages with them, the more there is to discover. The constantly changing scene makes capturing the view difficult, allows for ongoing discovery, and requires the artist to continually learn new ways to apply paint to the canvas. In the artist's words, “I have lots to learn, which makes it a constant challenge.”
Susan Hill Cole’s works present a similar sense of beauty and wonder, although through very different means, with her monotype prints featuring the beautiful colors of nature. Textures and renderings of flora are layered in a large format, which allows the viewer to closely examine the components blending together. Her encaustic paintings are likewise a visual delight, featuring leaves and flower petals, precious sketches, and studies of flora, all carefully torn and preserved in wax alongside selectively applied colors. These encaustic works feel intimate as if we are getting a peek inside the artist’s mind or her sketchbook. Yet, they each stand firm individually, feeling complete and lovingly rendered, even when they are presented alongside other works in the same series.
Nancy Carter Sarno’s work explores the diversity of her interests and highlights the broadness of her portfolio. This exhibition includes pieces from her early career as a textile and giftware designer and her more recent work, which includes bold lithographs and celebrates the joy of creation. “Sarno’s reality” is incorporated into her work through family photographs and images created by her daughters, who are also artists. One print captures the joy of playing in the rain as a child, while another depicts the artist herself in her classroom as a first-year teacher at St. Luke’s. These images are lighthearted and vibrant in their sense of composition and energy.
Throughout their careers as art educators, these three artists, with their boundless energy and sense of inquiry, were a constant source of inspiration for their students. Their generosity and desire to help others continues, as all three allowed the new Advanced Art Practices: Senior Thesis class to select the works for this exhibition and curate the installation of the pieces in the gallery.