Art — Harry Umen: New Work

Digital artist and teacher gets a solo show


By Michelle Saturley

The McIninch Art Gallery at Southern New Hampshire University is following its recent abstract art show with the work of a digital art pioneer who is also a local artist and teacher.

The gallery will present “Harry Umen: New Work,” opening Saturday, Nov. 6, and running through Thursday, Dec. 16. A public reception for the artist will be held Friday, Nov. 5, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Robert Frost Hall.

Umen is an associate professor of communications and teaches graphic design and digital media at SNHU. He’s also an award-winning professional designer and artist. Gallery director Bob Craven says this “dual life” of sorts made Umen a prime candidate for a solo show.

“We select shows that enrich the curriculum here, so the fact the Harry teaches the digital media course line was part of the reason I approached him,” Craven said. “But his work is so unique and innovative, I would have asked him to show here even if he weren’t a faculty member.”

Umen received his B.F.A. from the prestigious Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and his M.F.A. from Indiana University. He also studied computer imaging at the Massachusetts College of Art and the Kodak Imaging Center in Camden, Maine. He was influenced early in his career by the surrealist and constructivist artists of Europe, as well as the American painters Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella. During the 1980’s, he exhibited in New York and internationally as a glass artist. In 1986, he began to focus on digital collage as his primary medium. His current show is a culmination of all of his traditional and non-traditional influences, and is mounted in a way that enhances the fluidity of the work.

“There are some very bold, dynamic pieces in this show, created on a large scale,” Craven said. “One of my favorite pieces is digitally printed out on a piece of aluminum, and another one has been printed onto a piece of transparent mylar, giving it a sort of translucent, x-ray feel. We backlit that piece from behind to give it a three-dimensional effect. I’ve never really seen anything like it.”

In addition to teaching, Umen continues to exhibit his fine art nationally and operate his freelance design business, Umen Design. He recently made an appearance with the New Hampshire Creative Club, offering advice and words of encouragement to emerging digital artists in the area.

Harry Umen: New Works opens Saturday, November 6 and will run through Thursday, December 16 at Southern New Hampshire University’s McIninch Gallery, located at Robert Frost Hall on the SNHU campus, 2500 North River Road. For more information, call the gallery at 629-4622.

—Michelle Saturley

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