Adams Gallery hosts new Illustration exhibit featuring contemporary artists

The new exhibit at Suffolk University’s Adams Gallery demonstrates that illustrations are more than simply pen on paper. “Contemporary Illustration: At Your Service” is a professional exhibition organized by NESAD featuring the work of illustrators from the United States, Canada and Italy.

Within the gallery, the final product accompanies each original illustration; this provides a visual understanding of the thought process and intricate design behind the many illustrations seen in daily life. It provides a new appreciate for illustrations and for the illustrators behind them.

Because today’s society is increasingly over-stimulated by rich images, these works of art are inevitably taken for granted. “Contemporary Illustration” humanizes the process and emphasizes the illustrator behind each piece. Instead of passively accepting the illustration on the front of a board game, as in Kurt Miller’s “Republic of Rome,” we see the design behind each character and the sophisticated work of the artist.

The art featured in the exhibit represents a broad range of illustration techniques that includes ink drawings, color pencil drawings, digital graphics, acrylic painting, silkscreen prints and watercolor painting, among others. Vivid, modern, and eye opening, “Contemporary Illustration: At Your Service” is one of the Adams Gallery’s best exhibits yet.

While the exhibit features nothing but stunning work, a few pieces are particularly striking. Salley Mavor’s “In the Heart” is a fabric relief, mixed media and hand-embroidery piece within a shadow box that was used in the children’s picture book In the Heart by Ann Turner. One of several illustrations for the book, it is a prime example of how far-reaching the illustration art form truly is. The beautiful piece features intricate handmade details; it displays an involved thought process and a strong sense of imagination.

Jesse Smith is a tattoo artist who has one of his sketched designs, “Oppression,” on display next to a photograph of the finished product on his customer’s back. At first just a drawing on paper, the strength of its message and the artist’s talent comes through in the photograph. Smith is able to express his customer’s sense of identity through striking decoration using his own technique of illustration. The juxtaposition of pencil on paper and ink on skin serves to merge the labels of illustrator and tattoo artist.

One piece demonstrates the broad range of use one illustration can serve. Ashley Wolff’s illustrations for Miss Bindergarten were used for both the book series and a plush toy. The Adams Gallery has one of Wolff’s original works, created with pen and ink drawings and watercolor, along with one of the storybooks and an example of the plush toy. Seeing the three positioned alongside each other emphasized the appreciation for the original work. Wolff put pen to paper and eventually ended up with a stuffed animal that emulated her drawings; what better inspiration is there to create art than to see it come to life in various forms?

Art students, business students, any and all students are likely to draw inspiration from NESAD’s exhibit of professional illustrations. Among many other types of illustrations, it features concept art, preliminary illustrations for graphic novels, storybook art, and advertisements. Besides displaying a before and after look at the art of illustrators, it demonstrates the hard work and individuality that can be articulated through creative expression. “Contemporary Illustration: At Your Service” will be on display at the Adams Gallery until April 28.