In college, most of us have hopefully grown to appreciate the people who make our education what it is ― those who teach and those who give us the tools to learn and indulge our own interests. These people are more than just mentors and educators. While it is easy to forget this fact in the crazy whirlwind of college, it is important to step back and appreciate the University’s staff and all they add to the University’s creative environment. This is the focus of the JustArts exhibit in Spingold Theater’s Dreitzer Gallery.

Curated by a team of professors and Brandeis staff, the exhibit showcases the vast creative mind of Brandeis’ faculty. The works extend the length of the gallery, a brightly lit room with white walls and concrete floors, a space conducive to the eclectic styles of the work shown. The pieces varied from painterly representations of rural Massachusetts, by Sheryl Sousa, to a satirical “Dreidel of Democracy Weighted Down by a Basket of Deplorables,” by Julie Seeger, showcasing the faces of the current presidential candidates. The dreidel was an interesting counter to the photographs on the wall behind it. The images of gravestones from the oldest known Jewish cemetery, located in Worms, Germany, were taken by Emily Corbato, a resident artist and scholar for the Women’s Studies Research Center.

Other standout pieces included costume headdresses and fantastical oil paintings by Maggie McNeely, the University Archivist. McNeely’s work was particularly expressive of the exhibition’s goal as her profession at Brandeis is to document the University’s history ― a job entirely rooted in fact ― and her oil paintings are rooted in whimsy. Although McNeely documents fact, she is clearly intrigued by the magical ― something students may not have been privy to previously. Admission counselor Meghan Napier’s work was also exciting to view, as its expressive lines and colors gave the viewer a map of her artistic process ― loose lines that made for rapid and dynamic pieces. Because the exhibit was a collection of many artists, it allowed for each artist to choose whatever pieces he or she desired ― not necessarily a series of work. Napier mentioned this in her statement about her works. This freedom allows the viewer to get a more expansive understanding of each artist’s full set of work and interests within the arts. The exhibit was very successful in offering complete windows into the personal affections of each faculty member.

This is particularly poignant on a college campus as it shows how interests can manifest without formal education. At Brandeis, everyone seems to have an artistic expression of choice they are interested in, despite whatever their labeled major is. The focus of the exhibit is to showcase what the University’s faculty does outside of the job setting — legitimizing the work of faculty outside of what Brandeis students see. In college, there is a constant overarching pressure to figure out a career.This exhibit, however, highlights the beauty in being self-taught or doing something “on the side.” Creating work in this fashion relieves the artist of the pressure of deadlines and assignments and allows the artist to truly be at ease with their work. While the exhibit may be labeled “amateur,” there is also beauty in pure, untouched, work. Overall, the exhibit was exciting, fresh and a view into the lives of our educators we may not have thought about before.