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West Shore Community College (WSCC) is hosting an exhibition titled Masters in Conversation: Works of Manierre Dawson and William Sievert June 12 through Sept. 12, 2024 at the Manierre Dawson Gallery.

For this exhibition five works by Dawson, produced between 1949 and 1955, were selected from WSCC’s permanent collection. Some of the works exhibited have never been shown at the college since they were donated in 2019.

Sievert, a master in his own right, responds to Dawson’s work with his own abstract works, creating a rich conversation. This arrangement invites the viewer to study the works of two masters in search of what makes each artist unique while also observing what unites them under the canon of abstract art.

One of abstract art’s most distinctive features is its heavy focus on formal elements (line, shape, form, space, color, value, texture) and compositional principles (balance, rhythm, proportions, scale, emphasis, unity, variety, visual hierarchy) more than any particular subject matter. Many abstract artists use them as the primary subject matter to study.

Manierre Dawson (1887- 1969), who spent most of his life in Mason County, Michigan, is now recognized as one of the earliest pioneers of abstract art. He began his career as an artist in the early part of the 20th century. As a pioneering artist the path he blazed would later be followed by many. In his lifetime he witnessed abstract art move from the fringes to become one of the most practiced approaches.

Sievert began his practice at a time when abstract art was at its zenith. His work encompasses editorial cartooning, documentary photography, poster design, illustration, animation and painting. He has been exhibited in many gallery and museum shows across the USA, Mexico and Morocco. He graduated from Eastern Michigan University and later San Francisco State University. Currently he is adjunct professor at the college where he teaches painting.

“Besides formal elements and compositional principles, many abstract artists study the meaning of the canvas along with the nature of the paint medium” said WSCC’s Art Professor and Curator, Eden  Ünlüata-Foley. “This approach allows the viewer to make meaning out of the work, as the response to each artwork may differ from person to person. Abstract artwork often provokes very strong emotional responses.”

This exhibition salutes the two masters with deep local connections and expresses gratitude to our generous donors. The works of both artists stand as a powerful testament to the rich inspiration artists find on the shores of Lake Michigan.

A closing event is planned for mid-September at the Manierre Dawson Gallery located in the Arts and Sciences building. Please look for further details to be announced in late August. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Gallery hours are Mon. through Thurs., 9 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Friday, 9:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. The gallery is closed on the weekends.