Meditations Made Visible

Artist Barry Nemett's drawings form an eloquent diary of travels and ideas

October 03, 2001|By BARRY NEMETT

Editor's note: Barry Nemett, head of the department of painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art, has been an artist for 42 years. For nearly all that time, he has sketched, both as a discipline and a passion. His latest sketchbook, filled with a year's worth of images gathered from as close as his back yard and as far away as France, is on view in the annual faculty show at MICA. We present a few of them here, along with his thoughts and recollections.

In my most recent sketchbook, there are a few pages of quick, bare-bones scribbles, but mostly it is filled with pencil studies that take hours. This book of drawings serves many purposes. It is a simple, portable object where I gather ideas and make initial contact with subjects that I may later develop into larger, more sustained paintings. I record my travels in it. It is an 8-by-11-inch diary in pictures; a series of meditations made visible; an opportunity to enjoy a nonverbal exchange with another person or place or thing; a doorway that simultaneously opens inward to me and outward onto the world.

Leafing back through my sketchbook allows me to revisit places that seemed to exist for me outside of time because while I was there I was lost in looking - yes, lost - even though (or perhaps because) I was totally focused. It is in this sense that drawing can be a form of meditation. For me, my images vividly embody sights and insights, sounds, smells and stories forevermore triggered by a bunch of marks on paper. Drawing makes things feel more real, more present, more noble. That's why I love what I do.

About the exhibit:

MICA's annual Faculty Exhibition features more than 200 works in a wide range of media in the school's Decker and Meyerhoff galleries, on its Mount Royal Avenue campus. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; admission is free. Call 410-225-2300.

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