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Familiar Faces
Shafer Gallery offers homegrown exhibit
Karole Erikson - Bison Thoughts
Bison Thoughts, is a photography entry from Barton keyboard instructor Karole Erikson. - photo by Story and photo courtesy of BCC

Each year, the Barton Community College faculty and staff get to strut their artistic talents in the Shafer Art Gallery’s “Faculty Staff Friends Acquaintances and Some Folks We Hardly Know” exhibit like professional artists, complete with a full-blown reception. This year’s show opens with a reception from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25.
The exhibit features a variety of works by Louise Fenn including paintings, collages and constructions. Barton Ceramics Instructor Bill Forst will be featured with a display of recent ceramic work.
Barton faculty and staff, as well as selected artists from Barton County, have been invited to participate in this event.
 “This exhibit is a great opportunity to visually sample the variety of flavors, styles and outlooks found in our local art community,” said Gallery Director Dave Barnes. “We are also pleased to have featured artists of a professional caliber in Louise Fenn and Bill Forst. This is a real treat for our community.”

Louise Fenn
Fenn is a multi-media artist whose abstract and representational pieces use a variety of mediums including paintings, stitchery, collages, constructions, assemblages, copper enamelings and ceramics.
She was an art teacher for the Great Bend Public Schools from 1951-54 and later was a teacher’s assistant from 2003-06.  She taught private art classes for 20 years in her home. Her work has been exhibited in multiple art shows across the Midwest. Fenn enjoys the tactile part of producing art the most.
“I’m interested in the process of creation – having an idea and expressing it through various media and techniques to convey an emotion or experience to someone else,” she said. “I’m always pleased if the end product is a work of art I can enjoy sharing with others, but my greatest joy is in the ‘doing.’  The process of creating.”
Fenn’s process, particularly for her 3D work, developed organically.
“My ideas come from nature, my garden and the human condition,” she said. “My work has been strongly influenced by impressionism and expressionism, but I finally found a word that may describe some of my creations – ‘recyclism.’ As I walked around our neighborhood, I collected things like a smashed bottle cap or a piece of bark, which became the center of a flower or an owl’s eye in one of my constructions. These things still seemed to have some value, to be a part of the Creator’s world with something to say.  I felt called upon to figure out what value these things had and what they had to say.”
Fenn has always been involved in the local art scene.  Her and her husband Elmer were active in the Barton County Arts Council and were on the Shafer Art Gallery Advisory Committee.

Bill Forst
Barton Ceramics Instructor Bill Forst has been teaching art since 1988. He has taught at Hutchinson Community College, Sterling College and Barton Community College.
“I love what I do,” said Forst. “My life is saturated with art. My wife is an artist and a high school art teacher. I have a job that immerses me in art every day and I have a great clay studio.”
Forst is a studio potter with a passion for making functional and decorative objects from clay.
“I enjoy making cups and bowls for use,” he said.  “The handmade object when put to use in the daily ritual of eating and drinking, enhances the experience of both. I find great satisfaction in making objects that become a part of the lives of the people who use them,” he said.
Forst also loves ceramics because of the legacy that ceramicists are able to create.
“The history of many great cultures is written in ceramics, and in a small way, I have, and will continue to leave my mark on the culture I live in through the objects I make as well as the students I influence,” he said.
The Shafer Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.