Faces of Marylhurst Project Showcases a Community Dedicated to Excellence, Tradition

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The Faces of Marylhurst Project, 115 pastel portraits by Dennis Cunningham, is on exhibit in the Mayer Art Gallery on the Marylhurst University campus now through March 12, 2015.

Renowned Northwest artist Dennis Cunningham has an annual tradition – make a self-portrait. In the summer of 2014, Cunningham incorporated a “high tech” approach, starting with a photograph taken with his iPad. He shared the process with the students in his pastel drawing class at Marylhurst University, demonstrating by creating portraits of each student. Pretty soon, Cunningham was creating portraits of employees in the art program, and eventually, in every other department across campus.

In the end, Cunningham had amassed 115 portraits – The Faces of Marylhurst Project – on exhibit in the Mayer Art Gallery on the Marylhurst campus now through March 12, 2015.

Libby Dawson Farr teaches interior design classes at the university. She calls The Faces of Marylhurst Project a “compelling, accessible and enjoyable art exhibition” in which “we can look the Marylhurst community in the eyes.”

In his artist’s statement, Cunningham writes: “This project is more important than the pictures. It is really all about a certain kind of social set of coincidences. It is about constituency. It is about a group of people who strive to work together in a place, in order to make something good happen. It is about us, people who are, or who have been, in a special time and place; all of them associated with the institution of Marylhurst University.”

Torey Browne, a faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies, echoes Cunningham’s remarks: “Marylhurst University’s greatest asset is not the beautiful brick and mortar of her buildings, nor the long and noble mission that she upholds and serves. It is her constituents – those who are and have been dedicated to excellence and knowledge that are her true treasures. Dennis Cunningham captures the humanity of Marylhurst University in a herculean undertaking of 115 pastel portraits of faculty, staff, students and administrators affiliated with the university. His selfless gift of this body of work reflects his gratitude and love for those who embody the soul of the university.”

On the final day of the exhibition, Cunningham plans to further celebrate the Marylhurst community, presenting each individual with a gift of his or her portrait.

More about The Faces of Marylhurst Project, including Cunningham’s process for creating each portrait, can be found on the Marylhurst University blog at: http://www.marylhurst.edu/faces.

Mayer Art Gallery
Mayer Art Gallery is located in the Mayer Art Building on the Marylhurst campus. The building is home to the Department of Art & Interior Design’s classrooms and offices. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

About the Artist
While best known for his block prints, Dennis Cunningham is a multi-talented artist. He started his career as a painter, and he regularly teaches classes in metal sculpture, two-dimensional design, and pastel drawing. He also serves as BFA Art Thesis Coordinator at Marylhurst University. Cunningham has a long history of exhibitions, awards, public art works and publications to his credit. He has taught at Marylhurst University since 1986.

About Marylhurst University
Marylhurst University, a private liberal arts university 10 miles south of Portland, Oregon on Highway 43, is regionally accredited and nationally recognized for innovation and academic excellence in serving adult learners. Founded in 1893, Oregon's oldest Catholic university serves nearly 1,300 multigenerational students of all faiths and backgrounds. Marylhurst offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degrees and professional certificate programs on campus and online, all of which integrate liberal arts with professional studies and prepare graduates to be ethical leaders who think critically and creatively.

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Simona Boucek

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