CARLISLE — When “Explorations Over Time” opens Friday, people will be able to see pieces that were created as far back as the 1960s, artist Susan Nichols said.
“I think it’s a celebration,” she said. “The show includes work that covers a good many years. (My husband) Walter’s sculpture has not been seen before as a body of work ... so that’s one purpose of this show. They range from very careful study of portraits to entirely abstract work.”
Her husband Walter Nichols, a former art history and studio art professor at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md., has contributed a number of sculptures to the show, most of which have never been displayed or seen by the public, Susan said.
The show, which is being displayed at Carlisle Arts Learning Center at 38 W. Pomfret St. in Carlisle, kicks off with a reception from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday. Visitors will also see pieces by Michael Lahr, of Carlisle, who has known the couple for 40 years, as well as work by Susan Nichols.
Curator Cathy Stone hung the show in a way that Susan Nichols said she didn’t think of, but that it works well. She said pieces she wouldn’t have put together were put together and that it works beautifully.
Carrie Breschi, executive director of CALC, encourages people to come see the pieces because she believes it will evoke emotion.
“I think what makes it special is that it started initially with the sculpture and then to have, adorning the walls behind it, the work of his wife and then the work of a truly blessed friend in his life makes it even that much more special,” she said. “I think they really just complement each other.”
Walter, an Arkansas native, said he has been practicing art since he was in high school and when he went into his freshman year of college, one of his professors suggested he attend the University of Iowa instead. He ended up attending the University of Iowa for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Walter said he decided he wanted to be an educator at the college level because it’s a challenge.
“It didn’t take me long to figure out that’s what I wanted to do,” he said. “You meet people that are a little above the high school level, including the students. Most of them are there majoring in art.”
Walter and Susan moved from Chambersburg to Carlisle in 1977 for Susan’s new job at Dickinson College.
Walter continued to commute to Mount St. Mary’s five days a week while still keeping up on his studio work.
He said most people regard him as a painter, but that he also enjoys sculpting. In college, he became hooked on bronze castings and has been creating them since. He finds it difficult to locate a foundry, which is necessary to cast with bronze. Walter said the metal is strong and the artist can get very involved in modeling the piece.
Walter uses a lost wax process to make his sculptures, Susan said. The process requires a wax form to be encased in a mold. The mold is then heated until the wax burns out, at which point the molten bronze is poured into the mold, filling the space that had been left by the wax, she said.
Walter said he has been a part of many shows over his lifetime.
“Well, I enjoy that,” he said. “I like a show, and I’ve had many. I enjoy doing it, getting it together, getting it set up and that’s it. I have a lot of friends that like sculpture and art, and we talk a lot.”
Susan said she can’t explain why the pieces in the show are special, just that people should come and experience the show for themselves.
“I think we all agree the art speaks for itself,” Susan said. “We don’t all agree on a lot, but we agree on that.”