Artists share works inspired by their experiences

The FMU Fine Arts department exhibited the works of photographer Peter Schmunk and Nathan Goddard, a photographer and ceramics artist, from Jan. 8 – Feb. 14 in the Adele Kassab Art Gallery.

Schmunk, a recipient of the T.R. Garrison Professor of Humanities award, teaches art history at Wofford College. He said he has many artistic interests that he tries to develop and advance as opportunity allows.  Several of his photographic works are included in the exhibit, which is part of an ongoing project.

“Several of the photographs on view at Francis Marion, including the group of 10 details from nature, are part of an ongoing project to record the natural phenomena at Looking Glass Rock in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina as comprehensively as possible, in every season and weather condition,” Schmunk said. “I want to publish these in a book with accompanying essays on the natural and human history of that site, once a part of the Biltmore estate and a Cherokee sacred place.”

Schmunk said he has been taking pictures with varying degrees of passion and commitment for around 45 years, which has allowed him to discover new areas to explore that interest him.

“My first photographs were of landscape subjects and this still holds great interest for me,” Schmunk said. “I am an avid traveler, and so I have frequent opportunities to photograph the landscapes of different places. I look for old movie theaters and marquees to photograph and other things that one sees on city streets.”

According to Schmunk, his transition to digital photography brought him opportunities he had not expected.

“I’ve been surprised and gratified to discover that working with images on a computer screen can be highly creative,” Schmunk said. “Digital technology has allowed me to combine images in a variety of ways and build something more artistically and intellectually substantial out of images that may be insufficient to engage the viewer’s sustained attention on their own. This approach is seen in a number of the image-groups in the exhibition at FMU.”

Schmunk also said that while he is interested in the comments viewers might have to share, he is primarily driven to know that he has created something well made, beautiful or visually stimulating to look at and intellectually rewarding to think about.

While earning his bachelor’s degree in music history from the University of Washington in Seattle, he said he took art history classes, not knowing that it would become a professional interest.

“I originally wanted to be a composer of music,” Schmunk said. “But, I was also interested in the visual arts and took a few courses in art history as I completed a degree in music history. I studied the histories of these art forms, particularly as a graduate student, with the expectation that I would someday teach them. Only in the last few years have I pursued photography as a major endeavor and wanted to be taken seriously as an artist.”

He also has a master’s degree in music history and a Ph.D. in comparative arts from Ohio University.

Nathan Goddard, adjunct professor of studio art at Wofford College, had several of his wood-fired ceramics and earth paintings included in the exhibit.

These pieces are part of his work on an ongoing project with earth paintings.

“Using found earth and a mixture of soy resin, I paint on Plexiglas and now most recently discarded windshields,” Goddard said. “I would like to begin forming and disfiguring the glass panels. My work is always evolving and the process of wood firing ceramics informs the work I do with paint.”

Goddard said he welcomes the public viewing and commenting on his work because it inspires what he does next. He realized early on that he wanted public engagement when he expressed that he wanted to pursue an artistic career in school.

“I knew very early on that I wanted to be an artist,” Goddard said. “In fourth grade, I announced it to the class. It was humorous at the time, since everyone else was choosing fireman or police officer. The passion for teaching came later in life, after my son was born. It was then that I realized the gift of sharing and educating our future.”

Goddard has been teaching ceramic courses since the opening of the new Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Arts Center in 2017. He received his Bachelors in Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico and his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.