From August 1 to September 2, the John C. Hitt Library was for more than checking out books and study sessions. The building hung up the secrets of eleven members of the UCF faculty and staff. Their secret? Art. One might have never suspected that a professor or someone working in one of the many offices on campus was a “Hidden Artist,” as the exhibit was rightfully named. It was the third year that this event has taken place to spotlight the talents of UCF’s staff.
Immediately, one could be drawn in to the crystal-clear photographs by Gina Clifton, an Admissions Specialist. Clifton’s photos included a dazzling golden sunset, few of colorful birds and an obvious love for art.
“My passion for photography comes from a love of nature, people, places, and life. I enjoy capturing that moment in time and sharing it with other people. The gallery exhibit gave me another outlet for sharing my photographs,” Clifton shared.
Among the most heartfelt pieces was the very first on display, titled “We Are…” by IT Business Analyst Senior Dawn Herrod which was a collection of photographs taken in wake of the tragedy at the Pulse Nightclub and displayed how the community came together to show their support for Orlando.
“I spent several days visiting the memorials, often just sitting on the hot sidewalk reading the signs and notes, watching other visitors, and even taking water to the homeless man who watched over the site at Dr. Phillips. I think I took literally hundreds of photos of the memorials, visitors, and even one of the victims who was wheeled out of the hospital by his nurses to visit his friends’ crosses,” Herrod said.
“For the first time in my life, I saw a local and national outpouring of support for the LGBTQ community. It is unfortunate that sometimes it takes a tragic loss to soften people’s hearts, but somehow it did just that for many. Even if it was only for a short time, people were reminded that we are all just people trying to find our place in this world, trying to find love, joy, and safety. Taking the photos was therapeutic for me, helping me to process what happened. Putting the piece in the exhibit was my way of holding onto the support of the community just a little while longer.”
These artists don’t just sell copies of their artwork, they give back in ways that benefit the community. IT Department Manager Russell Muller, whose artwork features that of a dog sticking its head out of a window on a car ride, does just that.
“I donate a percentage of all of my art sales to Halifax Humane Society, and they are my charity of choice when I make donations,” Muller said.
The focus of most of his images were classic cars.
Other artists featured in this exhibit were Meredith Malkin, Pamela Williams Gruen, Simona Loh, Fiona Murphy, Judy Bragg Pardo, Brian Pate, and M.C Santana. The exhibit showed UCF’s community that staff members are much more than just staff members. They have incredible talents and are people with passions, just like students.
Library image a rendering of a reading room a few years way from construction.