Louisiana Tech’s School of Art will open two new exhibits by nationally-recognized artists Monday, Jan. 12. The Main Gallery will feature paintings and large scale charcoal drawings by Brian Bishop. In a concurrent exhibit, the Bellocq Gallery will exhibit Baton Rouge-based sculptor Loren Schwerd’s mixed media installation, “Mourning Portrait.”

The opening reception will be held from 5-6 p.m., Jan. 12 in the School of Art, and the exhibits will be up until Feb. 10.

The two artists will also speak about their work in the coming days. Schwerd will give a talk at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 8, in the School of Art, Room 103. Bishop will speak at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 12, in the same location.

Schwerd received her BFA in Studio Art from Tulane University in New Orleans and her MFA in Sculpture from Syracuse University. She spent several years as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Charleston before returning to Louisiana in 2005 to join the Louisiana State University’s School of Art as an assistant professor of sculpture.

Her work has been exhibited nationally, and her work is also featured on the cover of the November issue of FiberARTS Magazine.

“My current project, Mourning Portrait, began as a series of memorials to the communities of New Orleans that were devastated by the federal levee breaches that followed Hurricane Katrina,” Schwerd said. “These commemorative objects are made from human hair extensions of the type commonly used by African American women that I found outside the St. Claude Beauty Supply. The portraits draw on the 18th- and 19th-century tradition of hair work, in which family members or artisans would fashion the hair of the deceased into intricate jewelry and other objects as symbols of death and rebirth.

“The series began with the small houses. Working from my own photographs, I created metal armatures that act as frameworks for weaving the hair into portraits of the vacant houses of the Ninth Ward neighborhood. By documenting private homes, I venerated the city’s losses, both individual and collective.”

Bishop received his BFA from Memphis College of Art and his MFA from Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He has exhibited his work throughout the United States and has received grants and awards from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Johnson Studio Center and the University of Alabama. He currently serves as assistant professor at Framingham State College in Framingham, Mass.

“The principal interest of my studio practice is the exploration of the fine line between the forgotten or overlooked moment and the fetishized memory as simultaneously seen through the filters of portraiture in the west, snapshot photography and the contemporary cultural phenomenon of constant surveillance,” Bishop said. “Inevitably it also addresses memory, as it is known through photography, and questions if these moments represent truth or fiction.”

The Louisiana Tech art galleries are located in the Visual Arts Center between Tech Drive and Mayfield Street in Ruston, next to the Natatorium and across from A. E. Phillips School. The galleries are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. For more information please call the School of Art at (318)257-3909.

Written by Judith Roberts