Cresson, Pa. – If the word “Sabbatical” conjures thoughts of dreamy afternoons of sweet nothing, think again. For Dr. Donald Talbot, associate professor of English, fine arts and visual arts program coordinator at Mount Aloysius College, “Sabbatical” meant an endless stream of 12 hour days toiling alone in an old repurposed church in Maine. Talbot was intently focused on the joyous artful tedium of creating complex and striking textile art. In actuality a labor of love. His exhibit, “Based on Beverly: A Post-mortem Creative Collaboration,” is a visual and tactile treatise and homage to his valued mentor, the late Beverly J. Semmens, professor emeritus, University of Cincinnati, who died in August of 2010.
Dr. Talbot resides in Altoona and maintains a season studio (Atelier 9) in Lisbon Falls, Maine. His artwork has been featured in Fiberarts Design, Book 6 and Book 7 and enjoyed in shows and galleries across the United States.
In a sense Talbot’s show is autobiographical in that it reflects his personal and artistic journey that led him to artist, mentor and friend Beverly Semmens. “I first met Beverly when I was accepted as a graduate student in her fibers program at the University of Cincinnati in 1997,” said Dr. Talbot. “During my two years there she became one of the most important mentors of my life. She taught me how to think and work as an artist.”
Talbot graduate from her program in 1999 but the student and mentor remained devoted friends. “Before her death in 2010, Beverly entrusted me with a truly unique gift: her journals and sketchbooks dating back to 1954—almost 60 years of her creative explorations and personal life preserved in words and sketches.”
Talbot explained that, like himself, Beverly Semmens had degrees in both English and art. “She was passionate about both. She appreciated good art, but she loved a well-turned phrase more. Her journal and sketch books reveal a complex and multi-talented women who was both very much of her time while, being very much ahead of it.”
Dr. Talbot explains that the exhibited work is based on sketches made by Beverly Semmens over the years and so is—in fact—post-mortem collaborative art. “My goal was to use Beverly’s ideas as a starting point for my own work—not to slavishly replicate her ideas. Consequently,” explained Dr. Talbot, “I learned more about how she thought and how she evolved as an artist by using her ideas to inform my work. In particular, I learned about her sophisticated use of quiet symmetry, her rhythmical repetition of shapes and motifs, and her balanced interplay of geometric and organic shapes.”
After completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in humanities and English, Dr. Talbot taught secondary English for 16 years. He returned to school to refocus on the visual arts and leadership studies. A two-year degree in Professional Crafts from Haywood Community College in North Carolina led to graduate studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he explored in his doctoral dissertation, “leader vision and organizational storytelling as it impacts on an organization undergoing radical change.”
His 12 exhibited pieces include: Eclipse; Garden Party; Hide’n Seek; Secret Garden; Hank’s Dream; These Foolish Things; Decomono I; When October Goes; Modomo; Sacred Geometry I; Decomono II; Sacred Geometry II; and Sacred Geometry III.
Dr. Talbots work will be on display at the Wolf-Kuhn Gallery on the first floor of the iconic Main Building at Mount Aloysius College until March 28th.