The different directions an art education can take someone was illustrated Oct. 5 by five art alumni at Hannibal-LaGrange University.
As they met the public at their new ReCONNECT Alumni Art Exhibit in the Roland Fine Art Center at HLGU, each was asked to explain their work. They exhibited five different art venues, and they also differed in the role an art career has played in their lives.
HLGU Art Department Chairman Michael Chlebanowski introduced each artist.
Photographer Tiffany Shaffer, a 2016 HLGU graduate, participated in this opening art exhibit reception via video conference from Japan, where she teaches English. Her photos were on display.
Graphic design artist Shannon Reece of Hannibal, 1993 graduate, said in 1993 he was a pioneer in the HLGU fine arts program, because it had no graphic design program, so he created his own.
Reece explained he did three years of mission work in Zambia, Africa, which had a severe water shortage. This inspired him to design sustainable houses built around a water source, such as a cistern. His house designs were an education project and have not been constructed, he said. A video of his project was screened during the exhibit, and Reece also explained his current position with a Florida company, for whom he designs graphic art proposals, working in Hannibal.
Reece also designed a fund-raising proposal for a Chicago business that markets fashion bags made by women in India. Reece's wife, Stephanie, is employed by HLGU, where the couple's children, Nathan and Morgan, are students.
Also devoting full-time to his art was B. David Duncan of Harrison, Ark., who became a full-time wood carver and artist after retiring from teaching art, which he began a age 50. His carvings are mainly birds. When he began carving ducks, he said, "They seemed to come alive in my hand."
Duncan's birds are in the exhibit, including an eagle that has won several prizes in competitions. This was his first showing in Hannibal.
Duncan remembers he began whittling in second grade. In high school he wanted to switch from art to body shop to work on his car, but his parents said to stay in art, and he did. Later he was inspired by his HLGU art teacher, the late Mary Wiehe, who said, "Don't ever settle for second best."
Jessica Manasco, a 2008 graduate living in Washington, Mo., is contracted to paint pictures of classic cars from photographs. She also displayed one unusual piece, a large "moth" made with white feathers she saved from a rooster that lived on her parents' farm.
Manasco drew horses before attending HLGU. "In my teens I was known as the horse girl and artist. … I switched to cars here (at HLGU)," she said, adding she went "from horses to horsepower."
Manasco had advice for a beginning artist: "Don't give up. Don't ever give up. All great artists began as kindergartners."
Another Hannibal artist was Todd Damotte, a '97 graduate, who earned a degree in graphic design with a minor in journalism. He works for an ad agency in Quincy, Ill.
Damotte has written and illustrated three children's books, and his pictures in the exhibit are from the books. The books share their title, "The Adventures of Andy, Andy Jones," which was inspired by his son, Exavier, at age 3 or 4, when Indiana Jones was popular. Exavier (now age 14) called him, "Andy Andy and Jones." The books are available on Amazon, and Damotte is planning to write and illustrate more books.
For more pictures of the art, see photo gallery.