WESTFIELD – A variety of paintings by artist Jennifer Dorgan will be exhibited this month at the Jasper Rand Art Gallery at the Westfield Athenaeum.
Dorgan is the owner and instructor at Piece of My Art Studio. She grew up in Westfield and began painting as a child. She said it wasn’t until high school that she became more passionate and serious about art. She is largely self-taught, but has taken classes at Holyoke Community College, University of Massachusetts Amherst and studied en plein air painting in the White Mountains.
Dorgan opened her studio, located in Bismarck Marketplace on Union Street, in 2004. She teaches classes for children, teens and adults and hosts private paint parties and classes there. She said teaching art has furthered her own skills.
“I learn a great deal from teaching and my craft is continually honed through working with other people’s art and fostering their creativity,” she said. “My regular work consists of all things from nature to portrait in many mediums including graphite, colored pencils, acrylics, oils, and charcoal.”
Dorgan’s newest medium is “painting” with fabric, something she was introduced to by one of her adult students, Eileen Garvey Doherty, who introduced her to quilt painting. Dorgan said, “I’m hooked!”
Dorgan, who has exhibited in numerous locations and at the Athenaeum several times in the past, will have 25 pieces displayed this month, including acrylics, oils, colored pencils and fabric.
Piece of My Art Studio has had four locations in the city since Dorgan opened its doors, the largest being at Bismarck Marketplace. Dorgan and her students enjoy giving back to the community through art.
“One of the projects Piece of My Art has continually participated in with some of its students is the Memory Project, based out of Wisconsin,” Dorgan said. “When the studio has a good group of more seasoned teen artists, we create portraits of children from around the world facing difficult circumstances. By receiving a custom-made portrait of themselves, it is the hope of the Memory Project’s artists that we put a smile on other’s faces.”
Dorgan said art remains important to individuals and society.
“Art, I believe, is so necessary for all of our collective minds,” said Dorgan. “It is an absolute must for growing children to be exposed to, and an outlet for stress relief for all adults, no matter their skill level. I firmly believe practicing art is for everyone, especially for those who don’t consider themselves ‘artists’.”
Dorgan aims to improve her students’ skills and encourage creativity.
“My whole intention when teaching at my studio is to guide students into success with producing art, and to bolster their confidence so they don’t limit themselves,” she said. “Everyone should feel their own art success regularly. It’s a really nice feeling to look at that painting or drawing on the wall and know that you did that!”
Dorgan said she is impressed with Westfield’s growing arts community.
“I love what’s happening in the local Westfield art scene through Artworks Westfield and through Creative Art. These groups have spearheaded the arts economy alongside Piece of My Art, and we all have worked towards igniting the arts in the downtown, with the hopes that other business will move in, and it’s working,” she said. “Some great businesses are enjoying success in Westfield standing shoulder to shoulder with the arts economy and are working closely with artists to offer their walls/storefronts as display opportunities.”
Dorgan’s work can be viewed during library hours. She and one of her adult students will conduct a free quilt painting demo in the Athenaeum gallery from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 22. All are welcome to attend.