Biannual Alumni Exhibition honors Gemkow and Pfeifer’s human portrayal

Gemkow and Pfeifer offer unique perspectives on life through art.

The Biannual Alumni Exhibition will be held at Bingham Gallery from August 19-29, and will once again honor two alumni of the art department’s MFA program. Dan Gemkow and Therese Pfeifer will be showing their works at the exhibition this year.

To choose the artists, the gallery committee asks the heads of selected media areas in the department to nominate candidates for the honor of displaying their works at the exhibition. These candidates then submit images of their work and artist statements, which are reviewed before making the final decision.

“It’s the first time I’ll be showing at the Alumni Exhibition — after all, it highlights only one or two artists every time it is held, and the committee has lots of great alumni to choose from,” Pfeifer says.

Gemkow will be showing thirteen of his colored portraits that display the process that people go through when traveling on commercial bus lines across North America.

“While the ticket is inexpensive, the length of time traveling on the bus is quite extensive,” Gemkow says. “These conditions require passengers to wait for long periods of time both on and off the bus. I am interested in the state of transition bus that passengers experience. This work depicts people making their way through this process.”

Pfeifer’s work also focuses on people, but in a completely different portrayal. She will be showing pieces that take mannequins as their subject matter. She has been using mannequins in her work for more than a decade.

“Always headless, sometimes youthful and often decaying, these mannequins represent different aspects of the human life cycle, and the complex dynamics and choices various phases present for the individual,” Pfeifer says. “Although my paintings are intended as portraits, and often feature single sitters, I place special emphasis on human relationships, on the ties that sometimes unite people, sometimes bind them.”

Pfeifer’s work is inspired from life, but more specifically she draws a lot of inspiration from her previous profession as a RN and her current one as a teacher.

“Teaching has been an important source of inspiration for me — my close contact with students, who often struggle visibly in their relationships and in their transition into adulthood, has constantly reminded me how fragile and inconstant human relationships can be, as well,” Pfeifer says.

To accomplish his photography, Gemkow personally took five commercial bus trips that total over 30,000 miles. Each one of the trips was at least two weeks in duration, and he has just arrived back from traveling across Canada.

“I have not shown with Dan before and am very excited to do so,” Pfeifer says. “His photographs offer startling and poetic portraits of people you might see on the street, but full of mystery and potential action.”

This will be MU's fourth Alumni Exhibition. It was made biannual two years ago, so that Bingham Gallery could alternate between showing the Biannual Alumni Exhibition and the Faculty Showcase.

“Art is what makes me, ‘me’," Pfeifer says. "It fulfills and completes my life, and offers me a place where I can be imaginative, where I can create an alternate reality. I see and feel art everywhere, and I could not live without it.”

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