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Fertile Ground Exhibition: William Paterson University Galleries, Court Gallery

William Paterson University Galleries, Court Gallery

On view January 27 - May 7, 2021

Diana Jean Puglisi, Pincushion 4 (Polka dot), 2020

On the occasion of the retirement of Professor Elaine Lorenz, who taught ceramics and sculpture at William Paterson University for nearly 30 years, the William Paterson University Galleries presents Fertile Ground from January 27 – May 7, 2021 in the Court Gallery. The exhibition, which is also viewable online at, showcases an array of Lorenz’s sculptures inspired by elements of nature alongside works by some of her former ceramic students: Leslie Adler, David D’Ostilio, Amal Elnahrawy, Kara Kovach, Deborah Guzmán Meyer, Diana Jean Puglisi, Marcos Salazar, Jason Schneider, and Sarah Van Vliet. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To help ensure physical distancing and a safe, comfortable experience, we will be limiting admission to 12 visitors at a time to view our in-person exhibition. Visits will be limited to one hour in the gallery, and only members of one group or pod may be present in the gallery at one time. Admittance will be first-come, first-served and gallery visitors will be required to adhere to the following protocols. All individuals will be required to participate in a self-administered health screening including a temperature check prior to their arrival, wear a mask, provide contact information, and social distance. University-affiliated faculty, staff, and students must complete a daily health screening at

Elaine Lorenz creates sculptures in a variety of materials including wood, metal, concrete, encaustic over a wire armature, and ceramic. Her works range in size from large-scale, site-specific installations and freestanding work to more intimate pedestal pieces. While her style is rather abstract, Lorenz alludes to seasons and life cycles in her work. Her most recent series focuses on seedpods as a metaphor for life––when full, they signify promise for the future, and when empty, she says, “[They become] metaphors for many things: species extinction, barren nests, lack of nourishment, destruction of habitats and shelters - loss in general. I focus on the remains of what once was, and perhaps the broken promise of continuity of life.”

Lorenz was born in the Bronx, NY and grew up in New York City and the Berkshire Mountains. She received her BFA in sculpture from Marietta College, OH, and her MFA in sculpture from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has had solo exhibitions at the New Jersey State Museum, Trenton; the Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ; and at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, NJ. She has exhibited her work in group exhibitions at Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY; The Fredonia Sculpture Project, NY; Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin; Knoxville Museum, TN; Hunterdon Museum, Morris, NJ; Newark Museum, NJ; Montclair Art Museum, NJ; Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, NY; and International Sculpture Center, Washington, D.C. She is the recipient of a MacDowell Colony Fellowship (1981), New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship Grant (1988, 1999), Athena Foundation Grant for Socrates Sculpture Park (1989), Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Grant (2001), and a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship (2001). Her sculptures are in private, public, and corporate collections in locations such as Alabama, California, Florida, New Jersey, and Texas. Recently, her large-scale sculpture, Élan Vital, was purchased by a private collector and donated to the Village of Piermont, New York. Now publicly displayed on the north side of the Piermont Pier overlooking the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge (formerly the Tappan Zee Bridge), this sculpture highlights her inspiration from life’s beginnings as well as the subtle elements of the landscape. One of her outdoor sculptures, Reversal (1989), is located on the William Paterson University campus near Morrison Hall.

To reveal Lorenz’s legacy and impact as an educator and mentor, Fertile Ground includes the artwork of nine of her former students.

Leslie Adler is a multi-media artist whose work focuses on nature through the intricacies and subtleties of both biological and human forms. She is also interested in the interconnectivity and relationships of beings and how they co-exist together. She has a BS in advertising and design from the University of Maryland, an MFA in art direction from Boston College of Art, and an MFA from William Paterson University.

David D’Ostilio of Brooklyn, NY works in 3D-printed sculptures, robotic milled sculpture, augmented reality, metal casting, and ceramic. His current body of work exists at the intersection of the mystical, ecological, and the technological as he seeks the connections between nature, culture, and innovation. He currently teaches 3D design as an adjunct professor of art, and he is the coordinator for the Center for New Art at William Paterson University. He earned his MFA from William Paterson University.

Amal Elnahrawy is an interdisciplinary artist and textile designer who explores themes of birth and death in her ceramic and paper sculpture installation, Re-birth (2019-2020). She currently teaches computer graphics, painting, and 2D design for K-12 students, and she is pursuing her MFA at William Paterson University.

Kara Kovach is an independent artist, photographer, and clothing designer. She was an intern at the University Galleries and recently received her BFA from William Paterson University with a focus on sculpture.

Deborah Guzmán Meyer is a Montclair-based artist by way of Chicago, New York City, and the Dominican Republic. She works in painting, drawing, textiles, and ceramics. She earned her BA at Pace University and her MFA at Columbia College in Chicago. She studied ceramics with Professor Lorenz while completing course work for her teacher certification. She is currently an art teacher in Bloomfield, NJ and serves as an arts educator for the Montclair Art Museum and the University Galleries at William Paterson University.

Diana Jean Puglisi is an interdisciplinary artist working in sculpture, drawing, painting, video, and installation. Of her practice, she says, “I commonly pick apart known forms associated with the history of sewing, such as clothing, fabric, pincushions, and thimbles to try to understand them thoroughly and in a context different than their original. As an educator and artist, I believe in leaving an open narrative.” After completing her undergraduate degree at William Paterson University, she earned an MFA in visual art from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Puglisi serves as curator of education, youth and adult programs at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, SUNY.

Marcos Salazar is an experienced printmaker, painter, and sculptor who finds inspiration for his work by observing the people and places of his hometown of Paterson, New Jersey. He is interested in portraying human connection, and he believes that “Everyone has a story to tell, and that our stories are equally important.” He recently received his BFA from William Paterson University.

Jason Schneider produces finely crafted furniture and sculpture using corrugated cardboard with subtle features that engage the viewer. He explores the beauty and character of an overlooked material through function and form. He received a BFA in furniture design from William Paterson University and an MFA in furniture design from San Diego State University. He currently teaches woodworking and furniture design at Northern Michigan University.

Sarah Van Vliet is an artist and art teacher in the North Plainfield Public School system. In her own words, she “explores the emotional impact of toxic male masculinity on the female psyche in relationships and life.” She is also interested in identifying the masks people wear, to hide both their physical and metaphysical selves, and the emotional and psychological effects this creates. She graduated from Monmouth University with a BA in art education and is currently pursuing her MFA in painting at William Paterson University, though she says her graduate studies have allowed her to pursue other media such as ceramics and sculpture.

Fertile Ground is one of two shows presented by the University Galleries. In the South Gallery, The Weight of the Body: Selections from the Permanent Collection marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and showcases works by women artists who challenge traditional gender roles and societal norms while addressing the dialogues between issues of gender, race, sexuality, and class.

This exhibition is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The William Paterson University Galleries are wheelchair-accessible. Large-print educational materials are available. For additional information, please call the William Paterson University Galleries at 973-720-2654.

In person exhibition visiting and information:

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