About Colleen Sweeney Gahrmann
Colleen Sweeney Gahrmann’s current work has taken the role of narrative, personal in conception yet universal in its interaction with the viewer. Most of the work reflect the artist’s own feelings, interpretations, memories and opinions, often related to topics of gender identity, moral and political issues. Gahrmann portrays the concept of a time of ignorance and defiance toward change: gun and police violence persist but a blatant disregard for civil rights and equality, which is depicted through the piece I Can’t Breathe, a ceramic raku vessel created in reaction to the death of Eric Garner.
I enjoy most everything about Ceramics I create earthenware and raku pottery that is influenced and inspired by nature and family. My ceramic forms are mostly functional in anticipation of surface effects created during glazing.
I am an artist, a mother, a teacher, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I am many things to many people. I am filled with both the joys and responsibilities of these roles. I am often in conflict regarding the needs of self and the needs of others. My current work has taken on the role of narrative, personal in conception yet universal in its interaction with the viewer. Most of my work is a reflection of me, of my feelings, my interpretations, my memories and opinions. They are collections and assemblages that evoke introspection regarding the self, institutions and expectations.
I often start my work with a phrase, an adage, a limerick. I develop a list of words complex and sometimes contradictory that describes a particular theme: memories of a bygone era, a feeling, an expression are developed into a short story of sorts that play themselves out in my mind. I refine and develop those narratives into sculptures. Thrown ceramic forms, found objects and discarded furniture set the stage and are an integral part in the narratives that express childhood, gender identity, relationships, moral and political conflicts.
I admire and have been influenced by the art of Louise Nevelson, Marisol Escobar and Judy Chicago. I find every aspect of the process alluring the physical aspect of throwing on the potter’s wheel, the search and selection of found objects, the piecing together of the parts into an expressive whole. It is this expression of self and the accompanying creative exhilaration that keeps me engaged in ceramic /mixed media sculpture.
M.A. Art Education Ceramic Concentration/Supervision, Kean University, Union, New Jersey 1987
B.A. Art Education, Cum Laude, Trenton State College, Trenton, NJ 1979
2009-Present Substitute East Brunswick, North Brunswick, Spotswood Public Schools
1986-2009: Art Teacher, North Brunswick High School, North Brunswick, NJ 08902
1988: Adjunct Professor, Ceramics, Summer Session, Kean University, Union, NJ
1984-1986: Art Teacher, Oak Street School, grades k-5th, Basking Ridge NJ
1980-1984: Art Teacher, Bayley Ellard High School, Madison Ave. Madison, NJ
1980-1981: Arts/Crafts Director, Grades k-5th, Princeton YWCA, Princeton, NJ
July- Aug.2012 Backlash, Soho20 Gallery, W.27th Street NYC
June-July 2012 Wish You Were Here, A.I.R. Gallery, Front St. Brooklyn, NY
May- Sept. 2012 Disconnected, Gallery 14 Morristown, NJ
Oct-Nov.2010 Emerging Artist, Beitzel Art Gallery, Gloucester C. College, Deptford, NJ
Sept-Oct 2010 Members Exhibition, Paul Robinson Art Center., Whitherspoon St. Princeton, NJ
January 2010-February 2010 Monmouth Museum 31st Annual Juried Art Exhibition, Lincroft, NJ
July 2009-January 2010 “From Here to There” Arts Council of Morris Morristown, NJ
October –November 2009 “Earth, Water, & Fire” Noyes Museum, Hammonton, NJ
September-November 2009, 2011, 2012 “Burlington County 33rd Annual Juried Exhibit” Annex Gallery, Smithville Mansion, East Hampton, NJ
May 2009 “30th Annual Juried Art Exhibit”, Wilson School Mt. Lakes, NJ
March-April 2009 “A Pinch and a Dash” Mill Pond House Gallery, St. James, NY
November 2008 “From the Earth-For the Home” Riverfront Renaissance Gallery, Millville, NJ
November 2008 2011 “Celebrating Oysters”, Clay College of Cumberland County, Millville, NJ
1992-1996 AENJ Instructors Exhibitions: Newark Museum, Georgian Court College, Nathans Gallery, Patterson , James Howe Gallery, Kean College, Union, NJ Johnson & Johnson, NJ
1994 “Eyes Open Minds Exhibit”, Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ,
1989 “Raku Vessels”, Jazz Gallery, Green Street, NYC
Awards and Experiences
2011 Second Place Award, Burlington County Annual Juried Exhibit, East Hampton, NJ
2011 Image Inclusion Ceramic Text titled “500 Raku” Sterling Publishing, NYC.
2009 Recipient NJ Governors Teaching Award.
2009-1993 Recipient Geraldine R Dodge Foundation Visual Arts Fellow, received annual grants toward educational travel, workshops, conventions, equipment, field experiences.
1990-1998 Lecture/Presenter AENJ Annual Convention, New Brunswick, NJ topics included: educational strategies, learning styles and career awareness.
2002-1997- Girl South Leader Delaware Raritan Council.
200-2009 Environmental Club Advisor, North Brunswick High School, North Brunswick NJ
1998 Essay Examinations Writer, NTE/Art Ed., Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ
1987-1984 Participated in three Middle State Evaluations: Bayley Ellarad, Basking Ridge, North Brunswick High School.
1983 Chaperoned Twelve Students throughout Europe /Bayley Ellard, Madison, NJ